Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s Chief Executive, Richard Stubbs, was invited to give evidence at a House of Lords Select Committee last week (3 March) as part of its ‘Levelling up’ and Public Services inquiry.
The Lords’ Public Services Committee discussed what the Government means by ‘levelling up’ and Richard was amongst a panel of health leaders and academics who gave evidence around what needed to be done to level up regional economies through health, skills and education. Richard was joined by Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at Health Foundation and Dr Stefan Speckesser, Associate Dean of Brighton Business School at Brighton University.
Discussing how levelling up our local economies is reliant on increased investment in health and education services, Richard reinforced the importance of recognising the wider social and economic determinants of health when it comes to investment in ‘health’ rather than ‘healthcare’. Richard told the Committee.
“A lot of the work on levelling up around Yorkshire and the Humber has been around bringing our NHS colleagues towards this agenda. Both in terms of a stronger recognition of their influence as anchor institutions themselves, in terms of employment at a regional level and their buying power as procurers, but also to recognise that there are other rooms in local places where levers are there to be pulled that will also have a fundamental impact on health outcomes from a social determinants point of view.”
“Health and economy are bound tightly together. Interventions to improve growth and inclusive wellbeing are in all of our interests and it should be a shared priority and endeavour.”
Receiving praise from The Lord Filkin CBE for his ‘incredibly helpful’ insights on how public services can contribute to the levelling up agenda, Richard laid bare the stark health inequalities seen across the North of England and the impact that has on productivity.
Referring to research from our partners at the Northern Health Science Alliance, Richard spoke of the inconsistencies in the North compared to the rest of England, highlighting;
- 30% of the gap in productivity between the North and the rest of England is down to ill health and equates to a cost to the UK of £13bn in lost productivity
- People in the North are 39% more likely to lose their jobs due to periods of ill health
- 66% of people are on lower wages in the North upon return to work from a period of ill health
Richard went on to suggest that we need to look at our public services and the role they play in our health outcomes as an investment rather than a cost, stating;
- Increasing the proportion of those with good health in the North by 3.5% will reduce the employment gap by 10% (based on pre-pandemic research)
- Higher mortality rates in the North, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, will cost a potential £6.5bn in lost productivity
- Poorer mental health outcomes in the North, as a result of Covid-19 is costing £5bn in reduced productivity
The benefits of place-based community projects and place-based leadership was also a key topic of discussion as Richard emphasised the need to transfer accountability from central government to ‘place’ to allow for recurrent transformational funding to make the right decisions for local communities and economies.
“We need to invest, empower and most importantly, trust our local leaders. Yorkshire and the Humber have global capabilities in health technologies. There are 670 life science companies in my region – which is more than Oxford and Cambridge combined. 22% of all digital health jobs sit in Leeds.
“The difference is investment, and if we powered up our infrastructure across the North, it becomes not just an opportunity to create high-value jobs in those sectors, but also to have a step-change in the research and innovation that will come out as a result, which benefits all of the UK PLC but perhaps most importantly, uses our local populations as the test bed of patients who could benefit first from that innovation and research.”
We hear from @richarddstubbs that we absolutely need to rely on place-based leadership. Place-based leadership in #Yorkshire has accelerated health and wealth. #Devolution in itself isn’t as important as trusting local leaders
— Lords Public Services Committee (@LordsPublicSCom) March 3, 2021
See more of Richard’s presentation to the Committee in the video snippet below.