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Rotherham Together Partnership Blog - Lawson Pater, Chair of RDaSH

Published: Tuesday, 16th January 2018

Lawson Pater, Chair of RDaSH

Lawson Pater, Chair of RDaSH

I was lucky enough to become an adopted son of South Yorkshire some decades ago, having done the sensible thing by migrating north with my young family!

I have to say that before talking about where we are in Rotherham and where we're going, I think it helps to understand where we've been. In my time here, there have been dramatic changes in the local economy, from the hardship associated with the decline of coal and changes in steel, right through to the buzz that's apparent today in the Dearne Valley and elsewhere, and in the town's plans for the future. Along with the signs of progress, there are of course still challenges, which are being addressed in these plans, which the Partnership has a role in bringing together and supporting.

I feel privileged to have been working for a number of years as a non-executive director with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, or RDaSH for short. RDaSH provides adult and older adult mental health, learning disability, and substance misuse services to the people of the Rotherham, through a dedicated Rotherham Care Group team. These services are provided from a wide range of locations including Swallownest Court, Badsley Moore Lane, Woodlands Hospital, Ferham Clinic, Clearways, Clifton Road and Shepcote Lane, as well as GP surgeries. We also provide children and young people's mental health services, or CAMHS for short, and these are part of our specialist Children's Care Group.

We can sometimes forget how significant public services are to local economies, so it's worth mentioning that these RDaSH services alone employ around 600 staff in Rotherham including nurses, support workers, doctors, social workers, allied health professionals, psychologists, and others!

During my time with RDaSH, I've learned a lot about the NHS, the good that it does, the talented, compassionate people who work in it, and also that it's there when we need it most. It was there for me, a few years ago, when I found myself in need of emergency care, and thanks to the excellent partnership working of Accident and Emergency, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Sheffield's Northern General, I made a full recovery.

While this year marks the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we're all aware that health and social care face significant funding and other challenges. Perhaps as a result, often the NHS is presented by some as though it is simply a cost to the nation, and not as a national asset or an investment in the future health of the nation, or in other words an investment in all of us, which ultimately benefits society and the economy.

Those challenges result from a range of factors, including the national economy, increasing costs and rising demand and in response, NHS England's ‘Five Year Forward View' emphasises the need for ‘better integrated' and 'more joined-up' services across organisations, building on existing integrated working.

One excellent example of this sort of collaboration, is Rotherham's very own model of social prescribing, called 'Social Prescribing Plus'. This is about GPs, health and social care, and the voluntary sector working together for people in need, when medicine alone isn't sufficient. It helps people to build resilience and confidence, to engage with others and take part in therapeutic activities which add to their quality of life and assist with recovery. Rotherham's scheme has been found to be the best of its type in the country and is making a real difference, thanks to Voluntary Action Rotherham, the town's fantastic voluntary organisations, and the Clinical Commissioning Group, who were imaginative enough to invest in such an innovative scheme!

So, although Rotherham faces challenges, times are changing and the Partnership is working together to deliver the Place Plan's vision of positive change and development, focused around the needs of Rotherham's people. This bodes well for the future!