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Bradford on Duty: Tackling health inequality and social issues

Liz Blamire

30th August 2022

Bradford on Duty is a TV series that follows Bradford’s district nurses, police officers, council workers, volunteers and community leaders, dealing with health and social care issues in one of the UKs most diverse and deprived cities.

This series offers an excellent insight into how multidisciplinary and multi-agency working can make a difference to the lives of individuals and communities.

'From the difficulties in tackling rough sleeping, to the shocking health inequalities, viewers will hear unflinchingly honest accounts from those who are tasked with the incredible challenge of helping to relieve the pressure on the city’s public services, all the while working together to rebuild pride in their city.'
New five-part series Bradford on Duty announced by BBC Two

See below for a guide to each episode and links to further reading.

Some discretion is advised when recommending this to or showing this to students, as there is some very strong language and some distressing content.

Episode 1: Levelling Up

Contains strong language

BBC summary of this episode:

'Bradford was once the richest British city outside London, but after years of deindustrialisation and austerity, it is now one of the country’s most deprived areas. While the frontline workers battle with health and social inequalities on the ground, their leaders are campaigning to improve the city’s standing.'

In this episode, we see district nurses visiting service users with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - a condition caused primarily by smoking but also environmental factors such as air pollution and hazardous working conditions.

In 2016, the British Lung Foundation reported that the national prevalence (total number of people with a specific disease) of COPD was 1.2% but in Bradford it was 2.4%. That meant that people living in Bradford were more than 50 per cent likely to die from life-limiting lung disease COPD than the UK average.

To learn more about respiratory disease in Bradford, see this Joint Strategic Needs Assessment - Living Well: Respiratory disease

To learn more about respiratory disease and health inequality, see this British Lung Foundation briefing paper: Briefing: health inequalities and lung disease

Episode 2: The Greater Good

Contains very strong language

BBC summary of this episode:

'There are over 150 police community support officers (PCSOs) currently employed by West Yorkshire Police, all looking to care for the community of Bradford... With the loss of the city's industry, many of its famous mills lie abandoned and wide open for them to become hubs of criminal activity.'

In this episode we see PCSOs at work and the awful conditions that many of the city's homeless population live in.

Being homeless has negative effects on physical and mental health and makes it much harder to access health and social care services.

44% of homeless people have a diagnosed mental health condition, compared with 22% of the general population and 78% of homeless people report having a physical health condition, compared to just 37% of the general population.

To learn more about health and wellbeing and homelessness, visit the Crisis website.

Episode 3: The Next Generation

Contains strong language

BBC summary of this episode:

'More than 28 per cent of Bradford’s residents are under-18s, a higher proportion than any other city in the UK... Bradford’s child poverty rate is double the national average, and youth services have been cut by 73 per cent in the last decade.

This episode follows the police, fire service, community groups and councillors as they battle to protect Bradford from antisocial behaviour and work with the community to improve relationships.'

In this episode we see the Bradford police tackling youth crime and youth workers helping the city's young people to improve their lives, as well as hearing from the local Children's Services (social service provision for under-18s), which at the time of the programme was rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

Bradford has the highest youth offending rate outside of London. In 2021, the mean average ratio of Juvenile first time entrants to the criminal justice system per 100,000 of 10-17 year olds, was 54 for all English boroughs but 121 in Bradford (Local Government Association data).

To learn more about Youth Work, visit the National Youth Agency.

To learn more about how Bradford Children's Services are planning to improve their services, visit this page - Improving Children’s Social Care Services in response to Ofsted

Episode 4: On the Edge

Contains strong language

BBC summary of this episode:

'This episode follows those who are determined to help some of Bradford’s most vulnerable residents, including victims of domestic violence and those struggling with alcohol addiction.

With a 150 per cent rise in domestic abuse cases since 2015, particularly among the homeless population, and budget cuts to the council's alcohol recovery services, the situation is a difficult one for both police and council workers.'

In this episode we see police officers and council workers assisting people living with domestic violence.

The number of police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales rose 6% in the year ending March 2021 to 845,734.

Demand on domestic abuse helplines increased in the year ending March 2021 with a 22% increase in people supported by the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England.

Learn more about domestic violence statistics here: Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2021

Episode 5: Healthy at Home

Contains strong language

BBC summary of this episode:

'The final episode of the series focuses on how the NHS is trying to relieve pressure on hospitals by caring for patients in their own homes.

Community matrons Sandra and Julia tend to a patient in pain who has been waiting for a hospital appointment for over two years, after having it postponed during the pandemic. It provides a stark reminder that there are currently six million patients on NHS waiting lists, an increase of 50 per cent since the beginning of 2020.'

In this episode we see district nurses visiting an individual with a history of heart disease who has not been taking his medication. The visit is difficult, as the service user has limited spoken English. The nurses later return with a local GP who speaks the service user's language and the difference in the quality of the interaction is evident and a solution is reached to keep the gentleman safe and happy.

We also see a service user experiencing severe pain which is getting him down and an elderly woman that has not been seen for her significant health issue since the start of the pandemic.

See the British Medical Association NHS backlog data analysis for a monthly analysis of data releases by NHS England to highlight the growing backlogs across the NHS - including operations data, cancer waiting list GP referrals and A&E waiting times.

Liz Blamire

Liz is the current tutor2u subject lead for Health and Social Care. She is a former NHS midwife, who has worked in community, birth centre and acute hospital settings. Liz is an SSAT Accredited Lead Practitioner, who has taught Health and Social Care in FE and secondary schools, where she was a successful HOD. Liz is an experienced senior examiner and author.

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