This week’s In My View comes from Cathy Winfield, chief officer at Berkshire West CCG. She writes:

There’s mounting evidence to show that these days it’s not just how we live (smoking, alcohol, junk food) but the neighbourhoods we live in that have a major impact on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Air quality, housing, public transport, job opportunities and access to social activities are all important and this makes it really important for the NHS to work with partners to develop healthy neighbourhoods.

Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is leading a major drive putting health at the heart of the places people live. It’s called Design our Neighbourhoods and brings together partners in local councils, social care, community and mental health care teams, GPs , community leaders and the voluntary and charity sector.

We’re all committed to building strong, resilient, safe, healthy and ‘green’ neighbourhoods where people feel a sense of community, can get out and active, meet new people, volunteer, seek work, learn new skills and embrace life in their community.

By promoting healthy neighbourhoods, we hope to ease the pressure on NHS services so clinical staff can focus on where they are needed.

But when people do need medical help we’re also making it easier for them to access care in a more convenient way.

Last week our Primary Care Networks (PCNs) went ‘live’. In each locality across Berkshire West, groups of GP surgeries have joined forces to offer a new network of health and social care.

So, whilst you’ll still visit your same surgery, over time there’ll be extra services there like physiotherapy and clinical pharmacists. This will ease pressures on GPs giving them more time to spend with people with complex health care needs. Greater use of technology will help patients to book appointments, view their medical records, order repeat prescriptions and check test results. Increasingly doctors and patients will be able to monitor their condition using technology which should all mean fewer trips to hospital.

There’s a huge amount of work being done behind the scenes to make sure PCNs have very advanced, detailed data about the communities they serve.

So, whilst your GP or practice nurse will use your patient record to deal with day to day issues, they now also have an incredible array of facts and figures about the wider population which will help develop services and target efforts on tackling health trends in their particular areas.

This way, Design our Neighbourhoods will produce customised community care tailored to each area’s needs and bring real social, environmental and cultural benefits to local people’s health and wellbeing both now and in the future.