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'Variable' progress by health and wellbeing boards

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Health and wellbeing boards should move beyond relationship building to work more strategically to have an impact on services, a report by the Local Government Association and NHS Clinical Commissioners has said.

Making it better together – A call to action on the future of health and wellbeing boards, published today, found the scale and progress of work carried out by HWB to date is variable.

It states: “Although some HWBs have already made good progress, it is now time to move on from relationship building to making an impact on delivery of services.”

Bexley LBC leader, HWB chair and LGA London region HWB chair Teresa O’Neill (Con) said HWBs were already working more strategically, though she admitted some were further along the road than others.   

Cllr O’Neill said the better care fund had been a significant driver in helping health and social care work together more effectively.

She agreed with the report in calling for more freedom for HWBs to determine their own local priorities and said she would like them to be able to be less solely focused on adult services.

HWBs have made significant progress on using better care fund money to improve health and social care integration, the report says.

But it adds some boards need to increase their work on developing trust and confidence, and to ensure they feel as much part of the local clinical commissioning group as they do the council.

Boards also need to talk more to their communities about local health challenges.

The report highlights ongoing variance as to how HWBs have been set up, with some containing numerous agencies from outside health and care and others confined to membership of the council and CCG. Inclusion by local providers also varies.  

Cllr O’Neill said Bexley HWB had chosen to be “as slim as possible”, with membership derived from the council and CCG.

“Some boards can have more than 50 people attending; with that many voices, how can anyone get heard?” she said.

The report also calls on central government to grant a national five-year funding settlement across health and care and review the current tariff system in favour of a new payment system across care pathways.

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