Just some of the words I used in a recent blog to characterise partnership working, here in South Lanarkshire, during 2017.
In the early days and weeks of 2018, once again, we’ve seen all those very qualities shine – as pressure on services reached unparalleled levels.  As the effects of winter illness and bad weather were felt in hospital, there were numerous examples of partnership working across health, social care, the voluntary and independent sectors to address the pressures during the busiest periods.

As heavy snowfall set down in mid-January, staff made strenuous efforts to get to their workplaces and some were taken to visit patients by volunteer 4×4 drivers.  Volunteers from the Strathclyde 4×4 Response Group and Lifesavers Scotland also stepped in to bolster coverage.

Increased home-support capacity ensured people received the support they needed faster than would otherwise have been possible. This also ensured that people were appropriately managed from hospital to safe and suitable community settings.

Vital additional support was provided by our out-of-hours services, discharge coordinators and volunteers to enable seven-day-a-week discharges. This, of course, made a significant difference for our hospital colleagues.

As has been publicised on our website, GP practices have been opening on Saturdays all throughout January.

These examples reflect the wider, collective effort – and the endeavours of colleagues and staff across Lanarkshire – that was recognised with extensive and positive coverage in the national media.

There are many points we can learn and build on from these recent experiences to ensure we continue to develop our approach to delivering the best health and social care services to the people of South Lanarkshire.  In the meantime, I’d like to extend a sincere note of gratitude to all of SLHSCP’s staff and partners for your resilience, flexibility and dedication to ensuring people’s safety in the most trying of times.

Another word I used in my last blog to describe the on-going work and cohesion in this partnership was momentum.  There’s no doubt that very momentum has helped address the exceptional challenges we’ve faced thus far this year – and that bodes well for the rest of 2018.

One priority, for example, is our Building and Celebrating Communities programme – and we’re looking to keep up the pace on that front too.

A key aim, when we launched last summer, was to explore how we can generate more space for communities to create the things that matter – and how we can support these activities if need be.

As a partnership, we are absolutely committed to building and nurturing those strengths and activities where possible and where required.
So, to keep things moving, we want to touch base and find out what’s been going on. In a nutshell, we want to know about celebrations, connections and challenges. We’ll be communicating with many of you directly directly – or you can click on this link for more information.

There’s many more areas we’re looking to build on in the coming year. This includes a refresh of  our Strategic Commissioning Plan 2016-19. The aim is to provide renewed focus for the partnership to achieve its priorities during the remaining term of the plan and consolidate our many strengths.

Another priority is how we  continue to work, communicate and engage with our partners in primary care during a crucially important year that’s just seen the approval of a new GP contract. This particular area of work will be a focal point of the next meeting of South Lanarkshire Integrated Joint Board (IJB).

All IJB meetings, agendas and minutes are published on our website. Papers, as always, will be made available in advance of the next IJB meeting on Tuesday 6 February.

I will be keeping you up-to-date with key developments and news throughout the year as we continue to work hard towards our vision:  Working together to improve health and wellbeing in the community – with the community.

Thanks for reading and, of course, for your continued dedication, professionalism and commitment.

Val de Souza,
Director of Health and Social Care
South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership