My apologies for the slight gap in between Chair's briefings - it's been a busy 6 weeks on the partnership front. I was so honoured to speak at the inaugural Tower Hamlets Together awards, which were held online with many of us in all our sparkly glory! It was humbling to be part of the judging panel to review 70+ outstanding nominations, which were testament to everyone's dedication and innovation through the pandemic and beyond. Congratulations again to all the winners and runners up! Click here to view full list of all nominations for each category.

This month I also represented THT at the Health and Wellbeing Board, where councillors closely scrutinised our Better Care Fund plans. I've been observing partnership meetings too, to get closer to the operational and frontline work under way - including the children and families executive, living well workstream, local delivery board, and south west locality committee (I'll be going to promoting independence and the other localities in November). I participated in the mental health prevention day on 10 October and chaired the engagement leads group. If you'd like me to attend any other meetings and groups as THT Chair, please get in touch!

At October's THT Board, we had a brilliant update from the leadership programme hosted by the CVS, which is supporting 8 black and minority-ethnic led organisations to actively participate in and influence strategic partnership meetings. The organisations are Christ Apostolic Church, Off The Wall Players, She Wise, Somali Senior Citizens, Numbi Arts, Ocean Women's Association, Sisters in Business and Women's Inclusive Team. The community leaders raised issues with the Board across six main themes: Communication, Influencing, Coproduction, Funding, Equity, Barriers, Opportunities and Collaboration. This programme has been extended thanks to funding from NEL and a learning event will be held on 10 November.

The Board had an extended focus looking at savings programmes and the system financial position. The overall message from all partners is that planned savings are extremely difficult to achieve due to the increased levels of demand, complexity of need, reductions in some government grants, inflationary costs, and ongoing pandemic impacts including both backlogs and workforce issues. The Board asked for a borough specific breakdown of the NEL NHS budget position and a system-wide assessment of the risks attached to savings plans to be built into our regular finance reporting. We also considered the need for an honest conversation with the public given the price and demand pressures across all public services in this period. 

We also reviewed emerging plans for winter. Current trends are increased discharges from the Royal London, more people choosing to be supported to die at home, more IV antibiotics being delivered at home, the falls service preventing admissions, an uptick in Covid cases and more severe flu cases already, a huge increase in demand at the front door for adult social care coupled with an increase in complexity of need, and increased need for SEND and mental health support for children. There is high demand from NHS England for returns and self-assessments, and the place winter plan will come back to THT in December.

Finally, we heard an update on primary care, including growth, new practices, and enhanced services. We're really pleased to have appointed a new Primary Care Development Lead - Khyati Bakai - who will be a member of the THT Board and place sub-committee. The Board asked for a future discussion on primary care workforce and access.