SOUTH WEST WALES has proven it is leading the way in life science research and innovation following a hugely successful BioWales 2016 event this week and some big announcements.
BioWales, the Welsh Government’s life science conference was held in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre over two days, and saw some of the world’s biggest health and life science players come together.
Swansea University’s Professor Marc Clement, who is one of the driving forces in establishing ARCH, was a keynote speaker at the Cardiff conference this week.
Professor Clement, who had just flown in from Brussels after presenting to the European Commission on the digital, data-driven aims of the ARCH partners, presented to a packed auditorium.
He announced the opening of a new Health and Wellbeing Academy in Swansea in the autumn and also talked about the programme’s links with Obama’s MoonShot 2020 mission. The US President launched his mission to find a cure for cancer during his last address of the union in January.
ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is now establishing links to be part of this world-changing mission and is also working with Welsh Government to create a Genomics Strategy for Wales.
Professor Clement, Dean of Swansea University’s School of Management and Executive Chair of the Institute of Life Science said: “The theme of this year’s BioWales was Connect and Collaborate – and ARCH is an example of collaboration at its very best!
“With the ARCH partners forging ahead with projects such as the £100million Wellness and Life Science Village in Llanelli, the opening of a health and Wellbeing Academy in Swansea, the potential links with Obama’s MoonShot mission thanks to our work on genomics and precision medicine, AND being part of the £500million Swansea Bay City Region deal which is now on the table – this is a very exciting time to live in this part of Wales.”
Life science is now one of Wales’s fastest growing and most innovative industries, employing over 11,000 people in more than 350 companies and contributing around £2 billion to the Welsh economy every year. And thanks to the work of the ARCH partners, South West Wales is now at the forefront of a number of exciting and pioneering developments.
The Health and Wellbeing Academy project is being driven by Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Science and will open its doors in September. Based at the Singleton Health Campus it will offer services such as audiology, maternal family health and wellbeing services, osteoporosis and osteopathy clinics, psychological therapies, memory clinic and dementia support services as well as general health screening and cardiac and respiratory assessments.
Professor Ceri Phillips, Head of the college and ARCH Programme board member, says the innovative academy concept encapsulates everything ARCH aims to achieve in terms of transforming the way the NHS delivers care, bringing that care closer to people’s homes and developing the next generation of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.
Professor Phillips said: “We are delighted to announce the creation of a new Health and Wellbeing Academy as part of ARCH. The Academy aims to ease pressure on the health service, particularly for our GPs and A&E departments
“It is a unique approach aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the people living across the ARCH region through a range of treatments and alternative ways for patients to manage their care.
“We also want to help improve care for patients who face delays in diagnosis and assessments by providing alternative options.”
Four colleges from Swansea University are playing key roles in delivering the ARCH ambitions, the Medical School and its research arm the Institute of Life Science (ILS), School of Management and College for Human and Health Science.
ARCH Programme board member and ABMU Medical Director Hamish Laing has praised the work of the College for Human and Health Science and says the Academy will help change models of care offered in this area. Mr Laing said: “The college has an established track record for providing first class learning, teaching and research opportunities for students.
“Their vision to create an Academy at Singleton will help encourage personal responsibility for health and wellness which will deliver real advances in our Prudent Healthcare strategy and also help take the pressure off our hospitals.
“It was great to hear Professor Marc Clement make the announcement at this week’s BioWales event.”
The College of Human and Health Science is the largest provider of non-medical health professions education in Wales, covering a wide range of areas from nursing and paramedic science, to midwifery, audiology, osteopathy, cardiology and social work.
Professor Phillips said that although the Academy could not directly influence current staffing shortages in the NHS it would help reduce demand on an already stretched workforce.
He said: “Our intention is to assist primary care by taking referrals for assessment.
“One of the indicators of success of the Academy will be the number of patients diverted from entering secondary care and receiving effective community-based care instead – possibly within the Academy itself – but ideally closer to their own homes.
“This reduction in demand will help take pressure off the stretched workforce in secondary care and offer alternatives to GPS when managing patients with more complex health needs.
“We want people to be able to access services based on informed choice, prevention, diagnosis and self-care rather than heading straight to their GP or A&E departments for issues which could be resolved in another way.
“We also want to enrich the experience of our students, the Academy will help provide new opportunities for student placements and interactions with patients which will form part of their education.”
Professor Phillips added that the Academy concept was not limited to Swansea patients and said there was an opportunity to develop and provide similar services which complement existing service provision, across the entire South West Wales region.
He said: “The Wellness Village project in Llanelli is proof that ARCH is working with a regional view in mind.
“The College is working alongside Carmarthenshire Council and the health boards to ensure a similar model is available to people living in the Hywel Dda area.”
“GPs can refer patients to the Academy for detailed assessments which will speed up the process for patients and avoiding the need for unnecessary additional GP consultations.
“When patients self-refer to the Academy for assessments and diagnostics they will be armed with a detailed personalised report which can then be used by their GP if necessary.”
Professor Phillips added: “We all realise it’s time to re-think the healthcare system. There is a need to rebalance the traditional approach of only treating ill health reactively and start focusing on lifelong lifestyle changes and prevention rather than cure.”
For more information on ARCH and its work visit www.arch.wales
- Monday 7 March 2016 11.00 GMT
- Thursday 10 March 2016 11.58 GMT
- Emma Turner