Academy helping to reduce NHS waiting lists celebrates its first year

Swansea University’s Health and Wellbeing Academy is celebrating its first birthday.

The Academy, based at the University’s College of Human and Health Sciences (CHHS), was officially opened on 6 March 2017 by Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport.  The Academy offers affordable and flexible services to support the health and wellbeing of people in the local community and over the last year has also played an important role in supporting its NHS partners to deliver services differently and to manage waiting lists for some specialised services in the region. 

Julia Pridmore is Director of the CHHS Health & Wellbeing Academy.  She said: “The Academy is the only service of its kind in Wales and empowers citizens to take control of their own health, relieving pressure on overstretched services whilst training the healthcare workforce of the future.

Many services are set up in conjunction with partners in the NHS, and this has resulted in the Academy making a real difference to waiting times for treatment in areas such as cardiology and musculoskeletal services, and plugging gaps in provision.  For example, our cardiology team has treated 70 patients within the community who would otherwise be on NHS waiting lists.

Much of what we offer is not available through the NHS, or in the region, giving the community more choice with regards to their wellbeing. For example, we have partnerships with third sector organisations including CRUSE Bereavement Care which has enabled us to provide a valuable service for bereaved young people, unique in Wales.

We also support a bespoke Further Education programme designed to strengthen the evolving health and life science sector, bringing health sciences to life for our students.”

Since the Academy opened it has:

  • delivered 15 different health and wellbeing services
  • treated 2,659 new patients
  • worked with six different charities
  • worked with seven regional businesses
  • delivered nine public health promotion events
  • hosted five workshops on wellbeing and happiness
  • trained 16 staff in dementia awareness in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s society.

 The Academy has proved invaluable for local citizens:

  • As part of the unique partnership between the Academy’s osteopathy team and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU), physiotherapy patients are given the option to see an osteopath, and if their problem is resolved they can choose to be removed from the NHS waiting list. In just the last year, over 400 patients have been treated by the Academy’s osteopathic team.
  • With increasing demand in the ABMU Health Board (ABMUHB) to deliver community wound care, the Academy provides a safe environment for patients to be treated in the locality, reducing pressure on the NHS with 850 patients treated to date.  In addition, a successful pilot with ABMUHB cardiology team to provide 100 echo-heart scans for patients on the NHS waiting list has almost completed.
  • In 2016, hypnobirthing classes were in short supply in south west Wales, provided by just one midwife. In response to demand, CHHS supported its midwives to train in this specialised area, with additional courses now available at the Academy.
  • To support patients with traumatic brain injury, the Academy has provided positive psycho-education workshops; clinical psychologists worked with 28 service users to help achieve individual neuro-rehabilitation goals by involving them in a project to clean up a garden and pond at the University’s Singleton campus; using the activity to improve their own wellbeing, whilst generating a wellbeing space for future patients.
  • Working with CRUSE Bereavement Care, the Academy has helped 24 bereaved young people through uptake of its unique service in Wales. Inspired by the work, the Academy’s staff raised £3,471 for CRUSE by tackling a 10k muddy obstacle course in March 2017.

Julia Pridmore said: “The Academy aligns with one of the University’s key strategic themes: to enrich the community and cultural life of Wales, as well as contributing to the health, leisure, and wellbeing of its citizens.  As it grows, the Academy is supporting new local businesses, widening services offered and giving additional choice to patients. We look forward to building on the success of the Academy’s first year throughout 2018 and beyond.”

The Health and Wellbeing Academy is currently offering discounted osteopathy treatments.  For further details visit the Academy’s website.