Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) are the cornerstone for planning for and securing effective transformation of health and care services in a time of increasing financial pressures on both the NHS and local government.
Local government has the statutory responsibility for delivering social care while the NHS has the responsibility for health care. Social care is one of the largest areas of spend for councils at £2.3 billion in adult social care alone in 2016/17, representing 17 per cent of total council spend (as high as 24 per cent in some boroughs) while over the same period children’s social care spending was £1.4 billion representing an additional eleven per cent of total council spend.
The formation of Health and Wellbeing Boards was primarily driven to bring health and social care closer together to help to bring about greater efficiencies in the delivery of these services and so to improve both health and care outcomes for people.
To support the local health and Wellbeing Boards, London Councils established the London Health and Wellbeing Board Chairs Network and the Lead Officers' Network to provide timely information and support on new developments, a forum for peer-to-peer engagement and to consider opportunities for working at scale.
Health and Wellbeing Boards are invaluable to the health inequalities agenda. As a statutory body that is able to bring together a broad spectrum of partners from within and without the local health system, HWB’s are uniquely placed to tackle the wider causes of health inequalities, such as employment, transport and housing. While the framework for all HWB’s follows statutory guidance, many have begun to go beyond this requirement to maximise opportunities, ensuring that the wider determinants of health and wellbeing are recognised and engaged with by local political leadership.