NHS trust underlines its role in community beyond just healthcare

The NHS trust running hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside is reaffirming how it has a wider role in supporting the community it serves.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 08:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 08:48 am
The NHS is one of the largest employers in the region, so has a wide-ranging impact.

Corporate responsibility is described as the voluntary action businesses take over and above legal requirements to manage and enhance economic, environmental and societal impacts.

Claire Riley, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s executive director of corporate affairs and communications, said: “Historically, the NHS doesn’t talk in terms of adding social value and I think that’s a mistake.”

Nonetheless, the trust has for some time ‘been of the mind-set that focusing in on community impact and partnerships will be better for the areas we serve’, an update to the board last Thursday (January 24) said.

‘We know that our local communities within North Tyneside and Northumberland are, by nature, reliant on public-sector jobs.

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‘We employ over 10,000 staff, many of which live and work in the local areas served. As an example, around 16 per cent of those working in Northumberland work within the health sector and one in three people employed in areas such as Wansbeck and Morpeth work within the public sector.

‘As a result, the trust has been working for sometime on how we evolve our position across the counties we serve and how we can use our organisational strength to support projects that will deliver a social good.’

But the trust’s strategy, known as The Northumbria Way, will take on more significance in light of the recently-published NHS Long-Term Plan, which includes an aim of supporting ‘wider social goals from health, employment and the environment’.

The report added: ‘It includes a clear direction to help the integration of volunteering across the NHS, how it wants to see a reduction in pollution created by the NHS and firmly shows the impact the NHS has on local economies, citing how some NHS organisations are the largest employers in some areas’.

The presentation outlined some of the next steps involved to update Northumbria’s model, with Mrs Riley saying: “It’s about joining the dots of lots of things we already do, but also it will enable us to identify any gaps.

“There are great things happening, but we don’t always talk about it in a collective way.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service