Bosses at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon want to address and improve the health of the population of the borough before they need treatment at the hospital.

And one way they see of doing that is to become what is known as an “anchor institution”.

Members of the Health & Wellbeing Board run by Swindon Borough Council but including health and care professions, the voluntary sector and police and fire service representatives were told the idea of the ’anchor institution’ came from the USA.

Claire Thompson, the hospital trust’s boss of improvement and partnership, said: “They tend to be large, geographically-based organisations, things like universities and hospitals but it can be large private sector organisations as well.”

Ms Thompson said the hospital wanted to make a contribution to improving Swindon; its economy, the health of its residents, its environment through use of its procurement policies, its buildings, employment policies and the way it delivers its services and works with partners.

She said: “About 80 per cent of life expectancy is determined by factors which are not in NHS control. We have focussed mostly, understandably, on treating disease or other conditions.

“What we need to do know is concentrate on creating the conditions of wellness in Swindon.”

Ms Thompson said the idea would be to try and buy supplies, where possible, from small and medium-sized businesses in the borough of Swindon or nearby, keeping the money it spends in the local economy.

And it will look to improve the health and wellbeing of its own employees, through development opportunities and recruitment.

Ms Thompson said: “The vast majority of out staff live in Swindon, who when we talk about the residents of the town, we are also talking about our staff.

“We buy a lot; we spend a lot of money and if we should try and spend it with local small and medium businesses.”

Ms Thompson said the hospital could use its buildings to share with community groups and the voluntary sector, and work with both the council and community and voluntary groups to ensure better access to healthcare services, especially to prevent conditions from developing.

Leader of the borough council, Councillor Jim Robbins, said the plan meshed with the council’s own proposals about community wealth-building, where it will look to spend more of its procurement budget with local businesses.

He said: “We are right behind this. It’s been done by Preston Council where it kept £4m in the local economy, and according to The Lancet there was an 11 per cent increase in wages, a nine per cent increase in life satisfaction and a two per cent cut in rates of depression, which seem like worthwhile objectives."