A short guide to health and wellbeing boards

What are health and wellbeing boards?

The Health and Social care Act 2012 establishes health and wellbeing boards as a forum where key leaders from the health and care system work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population and reduce health inequalities.

Each top tier and unitary authority will have its own health and wellbeing board. Board members will collaborate to understand their local community’s needs, agree priorities and encourage commissioners to work in a more joined up way. As a result, patients and the public should experience more joined-up services from the NHS and local councils in the future.

Health and wellbeing boards are a key part of broader plans to modernise the NHS to:

  • ensure stronger democratic legitimacy and involvement
  • strengthen working relationships between health and social care, and,
  • encourage the development of more integrated commissioning of services.

The boards will help give communities a greater say in understanding and addressing their local health and social care needs.

What will they do?

  • Health and wellbeing boards will have strategic influence over commissioning decisions across health, public health and social care.
  • Boards will strengthen democratic legitimacy by involving democratically elected representatives and patient representatives in commissioning decisions alongside commissioners across health and social care. The boards will also provide a forum for challenge, discussion, and the involvement of local people.
  • Boards will bring together clinical commissioning groups and councils to develop a shared understanding of the health and wellbeing needs of the community. They will undertake the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and develop a joint strategy for how these needs can be best addressed. This will include recommendations for joint commissioning and integrating services across health and care.
  • Through undertaking the JSNA, the board will drive local commissioning of health care, social care and public health and create a more effective and responsive local health and care system. Other services that impact on health and wellbeing such as housing and education provision will also be addressed.

 When will the boards be established?

By April 2012, health and wellbeing boards will need to be able to operate effectively in shadow form during 2012-13. Boards will take on their statutory functions from April 2013.

Who will sit on the boards?

  • The Health and Social Care Bill mandates a minimum membership of:

–        one local elected representative

–        a representative of local Healthwatch organisation

–        a representative of each local clinical commissioning group

–        the local authority director for adult social services

–        the local authority director for children’s services

–        the director of public health for the local authority

  •  Local boards will be free to expand their membership to include a wide range of perspectives and expertise, such as representatives from the charity or voluntary sectors.
  •  Membership is not the only way to engage with the work of the boards, all boards regardless of their political or geographic make-up will be expected to ensure that the needs of local people as a whole are taken into account.

How will local communities be able to get involved?

  • Boards will be under a statutory duty to involve local people in the preparation of Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and the development of joint health and wellbeing strategies.
  • Each health and wellbeing board will have a local Healthwatch representative member. Local Healthwatch will have a formal role of involving the public in major decision making around health and social care and its work is expected to feed into that of the health and wellbeing boards. To find out more about Healthwatch click here
  • All health and wellbeing boards will be accountable to local people through having local councillors as members of the board.

Supporting emerging health and wellbeing boards

Out of 152 local authorities, 138 already have emerging health and wellbeing boards, which are being supported to develop in the following ways: 

A number of resources are available to support health and wellbeing boards:

New Partnerships, New Opportunities – a resource to assist setting up and running health and wellbeing boards

Operating Principles for Health and Wellbeing Boards – to help board members consider how to create really effective partnerships across local government and the NHS.

The role of local government in promoting wellbeing – this report focuses on the core purpose of local government: supporting people to improve their lives and helping to build resilient communities, now and over the longer term.

Update: This page has been updated to reflect the passing of the Health and Social Care Act.

In Health and wellbeing boards, Healthwatch, Local government, Public health, Social care | Tagged , ,

8 Responses to A short guide to health and wellbeing boards

  1. David Morris says:

    Feeling of wellbeing, defined in my dictionary as feeling happy and contented. My Local Authority leaves me far indeed from that! They will have a hard task to fulfill to do so !

  2. David Morris says:

    I would require a member of the Health watch to be on the commissioning Board of EVERY Clinical commissioning Group. Failing that there should be an equal number of Health Watch members to the number of Commissioning groups. (Eventually ELECTED by the Patient Participation groups from each GP practice)

    • Jonathan Parris says:

      If these Boards are to fulfill the FIRST and PRIMARY reason for their existence:

      ie. to “ensure stronger democratic legitimacy and involvement”

      then we should all wholeheartedly support David Morris.
      How can they be democratic without this?

      For the same reason, HWBs should be Chaired by a lay member/patient. Without this, they run the real danger of being seen to serve only the wellbeing and interests of professionals, however unfounded such a perception may be.

  3. Paul King says:

    Having just returned from the Libdem Conference where there was much discussion of the merits and demerits of the Bill as a whole and of HWBs, and having now read that they were to have a single elected represetnative on them, I am concerned. Perhaps the ladies in the Lords have achieved improvements in this regard?

  4. carol lawton says:

    Where is the evidence that method of strategy development works. Some years ago we had the implementation of childrens safeguarding boards. yet we still see cases of children dying in horrific circumstances on a fairly regular basis.

  5. Simon Rippon says:

    How will HWBs strike a direction on community assets – that is NOT needs nor deficit based BUT looks to strengthen and build on the very things that keep people in places resilient and flourishing – there needs to be a Joint Strategic Assets Assessments aligned to the JSNA!

  6. Elaine Williams says:

    I am currently setting up a social enterprise CIC to address some of the health issues that we are currently facing. I have a degree in sports science, a teacher training qualification and various health and fitness professional qualifications. I have been promoting health and fitness for over twenty years and I am passionate about getting individuals fit and healthy using an holistic approach and various tools to suit all abilities. My organisation’s aim is to educate and inspire people to make their own informed choices to choose a healthier lifestyle. I would like to work with the commissioners to make this happen, as I have the passion, the drive and the expertise to do this. My associate staff consists of personal fitness trainers, nutritional therapists, aerobic instructors, sports therapist and sports coaches, who are equally as passionate and committed to getting individuals healthier. I would like to get some help and advice on how to go about working with commissioners to achieve our goal.

    • Graham Morgan says:

      I have been working with a Social Enterprise for over three years on devising and delivering innovative ways to support children growing up and facing the. challenges they face in the digital age. A multi faceted approach has been developed to deliver Education, Health and Employment gains. However, too many organisations who should be looking to work together seem more concerned with preserving their own position rather than looking to work in partnership or considering new approaches.

      Guidance is needed as to how local providers can present their services to, and engage more effectively with, the Health and Wellbeing Boards to become involved with Commissioning groups.

      There is an enormous need for preventative interventions to be developed to improve the nation’s health. These need to be introduced at an early age as possible and therefore involve schools – whose focus is on academic performance rather than health and wellbeing of pupils. The equally incorrect focus on school sport rather than physical education at primary level causes further problems.