Delivering health on the high street has gained significant traction, aiming to bring healthcare closer to where people live, work, and shop. This approach will transform how healthcare is accessed, making it more convenient and integrated into our daily lives. However, the realisation of this vision is not without its challenges.
To shine a light on the challenges and obstacles associated with providing health services on the high street, a panel of leading public and private sector experts convened in a roundtable discussion to understand the barriers and brainstorm solutions.
THE EVOLUTION OF HIGH STREETS
Traditionally, high streets have been synonymous with commercial activity, retail, restaurants, and various services. As communities evolve, so do the needs of those who live and work there. The idea of transforming high streets into wellness centres by incorporating health services aims to address the health inequalities many individuals face, particularly in underserved areas.
NAVIGATING THE BARRIERS
The discussion provided a platform for experts from various domains to exchange insights and experiences. A number of common barriers emerged:
Successful implementation needs collaboration amongst the public and private sectors. Bridging these disciplines to design functional and efficient spaces is essential, as well as making sure all partners are on the same starting line.
Issues around getting funding to ensure these services can happen in the community, run effectively and be an asset
High streets are often limited in space, requiring creative solutions to accommodate health facilities without displacing existing businesses or compromising the accessibility of the area.
Navigating complex healthcare regulations is a unique challenge, and integrating medical services into retail environments necessitates careful adherence to both health and commercial regulations.
Establishing health services on the high street requires community buy-in. Engaging the local population and addressing their concerns is crucial to building trust and ensuring the services meet their needs.
The financial viability of health services on the high street is a valid concern. Sustainable business models that balance users' affordability and providers' profitability must be developed.
LIGHTING THE WAY FORWARD
Solutions emerged from the discourse, forming several new opportunities:
Actively involving community members in the planning process to ensure that the services provided align with their health equality needs and preferences.
Adaptable and modular healthcare spaces that can adjust to the community's evolving needs while maximising the use of available space.
Exploring partnerships between public health agencies and private enterprises to drive innovation and ensure sustainability.
Overall, the discussion provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of delivering health services on the high street. As communities evolve, finding innovative ways to integrate essential healthcare into our everyday environments remains a shared goal. We can pave the way for a healthier and more connected future by addressing the identified barriers and working collaboratively.