We all know Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals play vital community roles. The hospitals and clinics are mainly seen as places where people go when they are unwell or have had an accident.
But alongside responding to the health and disease needs of the local community we can, and should, play a much wider role in tackling the wider determinants of health and wellbeing and health inequalities thus preventing and reducing illness, disease and suffering. This will both reduce demand on the hospitals but also improve sustainability and support wider local economic growth and wellbeing.
When you think about it, the impact of the Trust is immense. With almost 4,000 team members and volunteers, we are one of the area’s biggest employers. As custodians of two main hospital sites and large areas of outdoor space, how we maintain and look after them can make a positive – or negative – impact on the local environment. And we spend huge sums of money – around £80 million last year just on goods and services - and the associated waste and food miles for example are as significant.
Potentially we could spend more of our money within the local area reducing distances products travel - being careful not to buy the infamous garlic bulb in a local supermarket, which was actually grown in South America and is carrying many thousands of food miles - as well as supporting the local economy, job creation and sustainability. Importantly we might be able to develop a more significant and coherent approach to “home-grown” Team ASPH members for the future.
To make the right decisions about what and how to get involved, we want to understand more about the impact we have and what the community inside and outside of the Trust needs and wants. To do this we have engaged an organisation called Well North, which has worked in a number of other locations on similar projects. In the coming months colleagues from Well North will be talking to staff, patients and local people, as well as business and other organisations such as schools and colleges nearby.
With very best wishes,