The challenges facing the NHS in the UK are very well documented and discussed in the media.
The NHS Doesn’t Work
Healthcare managers are under increased pressure to achieve more with less money.
The system is strained to breaking point, with absolutely no positive way forward having been clearly identified.
Tragically, financial constraints affect outcomes. The system is broken, it can’t work, it has to change.
Why the NHS Won’t Change
No one is brave enough to speak out about the fact the NHS isn’t working and is unsustainable financially speaking, because any politician who did so would be hung, drawn and quartered, and would lose their career.
The NHS in the UK is untouchable by anyone.
It’s what makes Britons proud to be British apparently. But the truth is, the NHS is absolutely broken and surviving on very thin air.
It has to adapt to survive.
In Wales the Health of the Nation is at Risk
In parts of rural Wales the health economy is facing perhaps the biggest challenges of all.
Fragmented and underfunded services are dispersed across large geographical areas, and have to support an ageing and increasingly frail population, which inevitably places high financial demand on a system that can’t afford it.
Additionally, the same areas of Wales suffer from economic deprivation – a lack of jobs, investment and opportunity limit the overall wellbeing of the entire population.
Phoenix From the Ashes – Wales Redesigns Healthcare
Against this almost unspeakably bleak backdrop, a brand new image of healthcare provision is being painted. The image emerging is revolutionary in terms of its approach to creating a synergy between health and holistic wellbeing.
Ironically, when you read about it and understand it, it seems so unbelievably simple and obvious that it’s hard to believe the NHS itself hasn’t come up with it before.
However, my belief based on personal experience is that the NHS is mired beneath layers of extremely overpaid and under-skilled managers, and constrained by bureaucratic processes which limit any form of creative thinking.
The good news for the whole of the UK is that Wales is redesigning healthcare. It’s doing so because the brilliant brains from 3 world-class institutions have chosen to collaborate, and create an absolutely innovative and fresh way forward for the provision of health and wellbeing services for the population of South West Wales.
This stunningly beautiful corner of the United Kingdom is about to benefit from the ARCH project.
What is the ARCH Project?
According to ARCH’s own summary document: “ARCH is health and science working together, to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of the people of South West Wales. It will generate a future for the people of South West Wales which delivers better health, skills and economic outcomes.”
Confused? So was I!
The communication material for the ARCH project says an awful lot without actually disseminating the core facts!
Here’s what you need to know in Vox Urban’s words:
ARCH is the name of a project that is starting a revolution in healthcare in Wales. It’s a revolution that’s replicable across the NHS.
I truly feel that ARCH’s ambitions are not only achievable, but should be closely supported and enabled by the Department of Health.
ARCH has come about as a result of clever people at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board, Hywel Dda health board and Swansea University getting their heads together, and reimagining how healthcare needs to work for the people within the communities in which these institutions exist.
Rather than attempting to continue to work in an unworkable way to patch up healthcare provision, that’s basically haemorrhaging cash and ultimately failing to make a significant difference in terms of changing overall outcomes, ARCH will do it all differently.
ARCH is a bridge between health and wellbeing.
It will link services, invest in facilities, develop new strategies and support almost a million people within the six local authority areas it covers – namely Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.
What Will ARCH Do?
Referring back to ARCH’s own summary for a moment: “ARCH will deliver a holistic regional model for health built on the principles of collaboration across Hywel Dda UHB, ABMU HB and Swansea University. The core of this model is based upon establishing a relationship with our citizens, working together to develop local values, focused on the health and wellbeing of our communities.
“ARCH will develop and implement new service models based on the principle of care being provided closer to home. Expanding access through the development of new infrastructure and redeveloping and redefining the use of existing infrastructure will radically transform patient pathways across the region.
“Within this new model our Hospitals will be dedicated to those who are acutely unwell and require specialist care. When required, this will be delivered in environments which are comparable with the best in the world delivering improved patient outcomes within this holistic model, always supporting improved health and enabling care closer to home.”
Or, in other words (!) ARCH is going to invest in healthcare research, build new world-class medical facilities, greatly improve and expand existing health and wellbeing facilities, develop and improve social approaches that can prevent health problems from developing, and enable those who are living with issues to better manage, and thus enjoy improved outcomes.
ARCH is going to focus on the wellbeing of the communities it serves – with health being just a single factor of that focus.
Ultimately, the ambition of ARCH is to improve the lives of the citizens of South West Wales, because with improved health comes greater overall wellbeing, which has a positive influence on economic factors, which in turn serves to improve the entire area in a sustainable way for the future.
Investment in services and research will also bring jobs and money to this corner of Wales sooner rather than later. This again has a positive knock on effect for the entire area in terms of providing opportunity.
So, think of ARCH as the regeneration of South West Wales, the regeneration of an entire community through their health and wellbeing. And think of ARCH as the reimagining of the entire NHS…
Where Wales will now lead, the rest of the UK can step up and follow.
The Building of ARCH Begins in Llanelli
Ambitious plans to create one of ARCH’s first facilities have been revealed. A Wellness and Life Science Village is planned for Llanelli.
Incorporating a leisure centre, the Village may also feature occupational therapy, medical and social services as well as day centre facilities. Delta Lakes is the preferred site for the development, which is in initial consultation phase.
Speaking to the local newspaper the Llanelli Star, council leader Emlyn Dole advised he wouldn’t be surprised if planning applications are decided by the end of the year, given the level of national support behind the overall ARCH initiative.
Also according to the Llanelli Star, the Wellness and Life Science Village was discussed during a meeting of Carmarthenshire Council last month, and the council’s chief executive Mark James said: “The term Wellness Centre was a little vague but now things are crystalising now and there are three [Welsh Government] ministers who have now got behind it. It will be a medical centre for care and research on a high level, creating around 1,000 jobs in the area. It’s certainly the biggest investment I have ever dealt with, far bigger than what we did in Carmarthen town centre.”
Excitement in the South West Wales region is palpable, and national Welsh support for the ARCH initiative is impressive. But it’s likely this revolutionary approach to healthcare and the regeneration of an entire nation will create international waves before too long.