Call for major debate on Marlborough's health future

Written by Dr Nick Maurice on .

26th May 2011

To the Editors

I’ve been interested in your reports on the NHS reforms, Great Western Hospital’s finances and the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community’s AGM.  Can I please use your letters section to suggest a way to launch a major debate on the future of health and well-being services in the Marlborough area?

The head teachers of Preshute, St Peter’s, St Mary’s and St John’s schools recently led a fascinating “Scenario Excalibur Project” asking the question “How can Marlborough become a leading international hotbed of learning by 2020?” during which process not only were a number of so-called “Remarkable People” interviewed personally on their views but also a two day meeting was held at St John’s and Marlborough College where 100 or so people from all walks of life in Marlborough, and very importantly  including children from the schools (i.e. the current consumers), addressed this important question.

A similar exercise on the subject of health could be undertaken in Marlborough – opening up a wide-ranging debate.  We could ask the question “How can Marlborough become the healthiest community in UK with the greatest sense of well-being by 2020?”  In a recent study of well-being in schools carried out by the New Economics Foundation it was found that the single most important factor in inducing a sense of well-being in schools was the amount of team activity that was occurring in that school, whether in sports, music, drama, social clubs etc.

This might be a project that could be funded by the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community. It is clear from their AGM that their finances are in an extremely healthy state.  In the past there has been an understandable desire by the Friends to give grants for what one might describe as visible benefits – technical equipment and the Prospect at Home hospice care service.  I wonder whether there might be a place for spending some of the money on invisible benefits aimed at improving the health of the population of Marlborough.

In a study of health and well-being in Marlborough a skilled facilitator could be brought together with representatives of as wide a cross-section of the population as possible from within the community of Marlborough to ask a number of questions under the headline:  How can we ensure that Marlborough has the healthiest and happiest population in the UK by 2020?

Those questions might include --- what is the current state of health and well-being of the population of Marlborough?  What are the major health and social problems facing the community?  What are the barriers to improving that situation?  How could we break down those barriers? What next?

Among the communities that might be involved would be the very old, the very young, women’s organisations, the Churches, the Rotary Club, Sports clubs, international groups, representatives of the schools, Town Council members, arts groups, representatives of the elderly in residential accommodation, people from the council estates, our MP, health professionals, including district midwives, health visitors, receptionists and doctors and representatives of the Great Western Hospital, in Swindon.  There will be others.

It should be an interesting exercise and, with some funding from the Friends, might lead to greater health and wellbeing for all Marlborough’s residents.

Dr Nick Maurice
London Road,