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'Plenty of time' to get Health and Wellbeing boards right

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Councils have plenty of time to get the workings of their new Health and Wellbeing Boards right, the Department of Health’s lead on the fledgling panels has insisted.

John Wilderspin, DH’s national implementation lead director for health and wellbeing boards, told a joint LGC/New Local Government Network Conference on Tuesday that compared to change timescales used within the NHS, councils had a good deal of time to get the boards right.

“April 2013 is quite a long time to get on with some of this stuff – the NHS tends to take three-months,” he said.

Mr Wilderspin, a former chief executive of West Sussex PCT, said that in constructing their boards, councils should be taking time to make sure the structures they put in place were right – including their self-evaluation.

“One of the things that we’re going to be working on with the boards is how do you know that you’re doing what you set out to do,” he said.

Despite the 20-month window between now and April 2013, Mr Wilderspin accepted that there were important milestones on the journey that the shadow boards would need to prepare for.

He said boards would need to have a “pretty clear sense of their priorities and have health and wellbeing board strategies” by July next year.

Responding to a question about the members of shadow boards, Mr Wilderspin said he felt the chief executives of transitional PCT clusters should be given visitng status but not full membersip.

Some 138 local authorities have now opted to become shadow health and wellbeing board pathfinders.

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