A £1.3billion investment plan for South West Wales will help accelerate the progress of the unique ARCH partnership, which is working to transform health services in the region, according to health leaders.
ARCH chair Professor Andrew Davies said the multi-million pound City Deal would be a welcome boost for the area. Professor Davies said:
“The City Deal is crucial for this region. The deal will help us deliver projects within the ARCH portfolio.”
The City Deal bid has seen 4 local authorities, 2 health boards and Higher and Further Education come together with the private sector to secure a funding package which will help boost the economy, create new jobs and improve healthcare in this part of Wales.
The bid is made up of three elements – energy, economic growth and health and wellbeing. ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a unique collaboration between Swansea University and ABM and Hywel Dda University Health Boards and forms the health and wellbeing strand of the City Deal bid.
The ARCH partners are working together to find a regional solution to major challenges facing the health service. These three big organisations have chosen to come together to action significant change at scale - and at pace.
Professor Davies added:
“Nothing like ARCH has been attempted in Wales before with this level of ambition or on this scale. It is also the first time that the NHS has been involved in economic development at this level and the City Deal, in helping to transform healthcare services in South West Wales, will also deliver well-paid jobs and high-level skills."
The deal, with a total value of £1.3billion, is bigger than the capital City Deal signed in Cardiff last year. It is estimated approval would deliver a £3.3billion boost to the regional economy over 15 years, generating over 9,500 new jobs. An agreement with UK ministers could be reached by the end of February.
£40million of City Deal funding would be dedicated to developing the Carmarthenshire Council-led Llanelli Wellness & Life Science Village in Delta Lakes.
ARCH, through the Internet of Health & Wellbeing strand of the City Deal, would create a network of health and wellbeing schemes focused on prevention, health & wellbeing education and social prescribing aimed at tackling the social determinants of health.
The Carmarthenshire Wellness Village project will improve the prosperity of the local area by creating life science and health employment and investment opportunities based around primary and community care, educational facilities, leisure and tourism facilities.
Hywel Dda chair and ARCH board member Bernardine Rees OBE said:
“We are proud to be part of ARCH, it shows our commitment to transforming the way the region delivers care and promotes wellbeing. The health and wellbeing schemes will partner first-class health, research and life science, with innovative leisure opportunities to help people live healthier lives.
“This project shows the importance of a collaborative approach between all sectors. To achieve a real step-change in the health of our communities, we must understand the impact wellness has on all areas and sectors - medicine, research, education, sport, community public health hospitality and business. This project will be the first of its kind in Wales.
“As well as improving health and wellbeing in the area, we are keen to see this project help boost the local economy and create new jobs.”
Other schemes are currently being scoped for Swansea City Centre, Neath, Bridgend and across the Hywel Dda area.
The Health & Wellbeing schemes will be tailored to meet local needs, and will be called different things such as a village or hub or centre, but all deliver and support new models of care; offer patients access to 21st Century healthcare in a community setting; provide education and skills programmes delivered by FE and HE to develop current and future generations of NHS workers; increase and maximise high-quality research and innovation; and, deliver a powerful and positive influence on people’s emotional, mental and physical health and wellbeing.
“Through the creation of health and wellbeing schemes and the development of health campuses, ARCH will maximise the world-class broadband connectivity offered by the City Deal, to give people the tools they need to stay well for longer and take responsibility for their own health & wellbeing, which will reduce the need for treatment in a hospital settings.”
ARCH board member and Swansea University’s Dean of the School of Management Professor Marc Clement has been a key part of the City Deal bid work. He said:
“We want the region to become a “living laboratory” – essentially a test bed for innovation which will enable transformation.
“We are delighted to hear a decision will be made in coming weeks. The City Deal will allow the ARCH partners to accelerate their work to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of South West Wales.
“One of the main aims of the City Deal, and indeed ARCH, is to accelerate growth in our region for the benefit of the people who live here.
“We aim to create more well-paid jobs, more opportunity, deliver pioneering world-class healthcare, and ensure a better quality of life.”
He added: “A lot of work has gone into the City Deal bid, and the imminent announcement is proof that collaboration on a regional scale can action real change.”