It is no longer just about the NHS, it is about drawing together in partnership all the resources - be they medical, leisure services or social care support.
A key part of this process is developing partnerships between the public and priv-ate sectors so that services are tailored to the needs of particular communities.
This vision of public-private partnership and co-operation between NHS and local authority community services has already been achieved in some parts of the country. For example, St Peter’s Health and Leisure Centre in Burnley is a 10-storey building that has regenerated health services alongside leisure facilities.
Last week at the Community Health Partnerships conference, health services minister Ben Bradshaw gave a resounding endorsement to such developments, created thanks to the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) programme.
He said: “The LIFT initiative has been a great success. There are now 147 LIFT buildings open to patients, 63 more are under construction, one is opening each week and dozens more are being planned. These range from GP surgeries, through Prim-ary Care one-stop shops, to community hospitals.”
The construction industry is familiar with the LIFT programme, which has brought public and private sector finance and expertise together, generating over Ł1.5 billion of investment in infrastructural development.
Mr Bradshaw made clear that there is still a lot for LIFT to achieve. But he also pointed the way to new models for delivering integrated health and community services. They include Social Enterprises - these are businesses with primarily social objectives involving patients and staff in the delivery of services, perhaps in partnership with charities or third-sector organisations.
Community Health Partnerships (previously Partnerships for Health) is helping to develop these models. It is looking forward to building new relationships with the construction industry to find the right models for each community.
Dr Sue O’Connell is chief executive of Community Health Partnerships