17 April 2018 15:26

Education and local authority leaders have come together in Blackpool to create a bold partnership to explore new innovations to increase and improve skills in the health and social care sector and thus enhance the wellbeing of local residents.

Representatives from Lancaster University, Blackpool Council and Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC) came together at the College’s University Centre in Blackpool this week to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding to drive the alliance forward.

The alliance brings together the expertise and knowledge of the three organisations to create innovative solutions and improve skills in the health and social care sector and thus will enhance the health of the local population, reducing health inequities among population groups, while driving economic growth.

By combining research, training and education and service delivery the new partnership will act as a catalyst for improved health outcomes.

Blackpool Council Chief Executive Neil Jack said: “This is an incredibly important new partnership that will see experts working closely together to innovate and ultimately help deliver real improvements to people’s lives in terms of their wellbeing.

“We are delighted that Blackpool will be a hub for sharing knowledge, new ideas and thinking that will shape and strengthen the provision of quality health and social care services to our communities.

“Signing the Memorandum of Understanding is testimony to the strong desire and commitment of all partners to drive this ambitious project forward.”

The agreement also marks the first time one of the UK’s leading universities will have a significant research presence in Blackpool. The work of the alliance supports Lancaster University’s new Health Innovation Campus and its ambition to drive advances in technologies, products and ways of working to improve health and healthcare.

Professor Andrew Atherton, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Lancaster University, added: “We are pleased to be part of a strategic alliance that will deliver health and wellbeing improvements for the residents of Blackpool and the Fylde.

“This partnership will look at the differences in health outcomes among the local population, understanding trends and structures, and in particular focussing on key public health indicators such as smoking and obesity in order to develop interventions and strategies to address these issues.”

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is a significant event as it formalises the strategic alliance between the three organisations. The partnership may then lead to further collaborative projects to drive growth and prosperity in the local area.

Bev Robinson OBE, Principal and Chief Executive of B&FC, said: “As a community college, B&FC has a long history of providing the skilled workforce industry needs to drive its business forward.

“This highly valuable strategic alliance enables us to build on existing relationships and use the knowledge and experience of the three partner organisations to improve skills, particularly within the health and social care sectors, drive forward innovation and, ultimately, improve health outcomes for the local population.” 

An example of what can be achieved by the alliance is the new Fylde Coast Health and Social Care Career Academy. The academy, which was launched last week to mark World Health Day, brings together representatives from the private, public and third sectors to ensure skills delivery meets industry needs and supports those wishing to begin or advance their careers in the health and social care sectors.