Posted by: ayrshirehealth | December 30, 2015

It’s no’ easy by @StephenNAHSCP

A rewarding year

I have been nagged, cajoled, encouraged, persuaded and at times harassed by D.T.Barron (@dtbarron – our lead nurse) to write this blog. I have, of course, failed to prioritise it and now find myself with the responsibility for the last one of 2015.NAHSCP Logo

2015 was my first full year in post as Head of Service with the Health and Social Care Partnership and has proven to be a very quick, jam-packed, uplifting, challenging but ultimately rewarding year.

I have had the privilege of meeting and working with many inspiring people over the months including front-line staff, service users, managers, chief executives and elected members.

The overwhelming impression I am left with is one of optimism and hope.

First among equals

Much has been achieved this year. North Ayrshire was the first area in Scotland to legally constitute its Integrated Joint Board back on the 2nd of April, albeit we just pipped our colleagues in East and South by a matter of hours.

We have filled our Partnership Senior Management Team positions and now established truly integrated Senior Teams to lead us forward.

Making ConnectionsWe have run two very successful engagement events – one for staff and the other for staff and the public. We have drafted, consulted on and published our strategic plan and developed a performance framework to monitor progress. Strategic Plan

We have contributed to the draft Children’s Services Plan, both in terms of writing and engagement and consultation.

We have established the sub-committees for the Integration Joint Board and have begun to build an infrastructure for HSCP locality forums.

We have a well-attended and vibrant Strategic Planning Group that has reviewed the key priority areas of our strategic plan over the last year.

There are many other areas of activity too numerous to mention but suffice to say – it has been a busy year!

Truly involving our communities.

All of this effort is geared towards laying the foundations for changing how we work together, both internally and with wider partners and, just as crucially, how we truly involve our communities in the design and delivery of services that are effective in meeting need.

Of course, and quoting the HSCP’s unofficial tagline, ‘it’s no’ easy’.

North AyrshireNorth Ayrshire remains one of the most impoverished areas in Scotland. We have more people without work than the national average, one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country and a host of health and social challenges that arise from these factors.

Foodbanks have become a fact of life (and indeed a lifeline) for many. Whilst we should all recognise and appreciate the dedicated and selfless work of the organisers and volunteers of our local Foodbanks, the fact that they are needed at all is a sad indictment of a society that is leaving many of our most vulnerable people behind.

It is public services and the third sector voluntary organisations that are ultimately relied upon to provide support to those most in need but the numbers of those in need, as well as the complexity of their issues, become greater when times are hard.

The UK government, however, is now halfway through a ten-year programme of reducing public sector spending.

Times are tough and about to get tougher and this has significant implications for the ability of councils, NHS boards and the newly formed Health and Social Care Partnerships to provide high quality, effective services that meaningfully improve outcomes for individuals, families and communities.


So, we can either just do as we have always done, knowing that the amount of money available to do it will mean that even more individuals will miss out on much needed supports – or we can harness the enthusiasm and optimism that abounds in North Ayrshire to make bold decisions in conjunction with those who use our services to do things differently.

Recognising successes

Some of our most significant successes over the past few years are as a direct result of highly-effective partnerships in action.  Youth crime in North Ayrshire has fallen by 86% over the last 8 years whilst domestic abuse has dropped 3.5% over the last three, having risen exponentially in each of the preceding ten years. These are remarkable achievements that would not have been possible without all partners involved in addressing the issues agreeing to depart from old ways of working to ultimately improve outcomes.

Those in the dawn, the twilight and the shadows of life are relying on us

Hubert HumphreyHubert Humphrey, former US Vice President, once said that “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped”.

I will not comment on the morality of a UK government intent on cutting benefits through welfare reform and reducing public sector spending.

Instead, and despite the antiquity of Humphrey’s language, I will end on a message for everyone working in the public and third sector in North Ayrshire as well as those active in their communities.

It’s no’ easy …… but it’s worth it

We have the foundations in place to improve the quality of life for all in North Ayrshire. We have the enthusiasm, the dedication and the talent to make a difference. If we in North Ayrshire can’t do it, then no one can. So, let’s make sure that ‘can’t’ is not part of our vocabulary in 2016.

Those in the dawn, the twilight and the shadows of life are relying on us.

This week’s blog  was by @StephenNAHSCP (Stephen Brown), Head of Service, Children, Families and Criminal Justice Services, North Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership: Chief Social Work Officer, North Ayrshire Council.


  1. Stephen, a helpful reminder of how essential the work of IJBs is- and also what can be done when we start thinking (and believing) new ways. Thank you

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