Government heeds our advice on effective engagement with health and wellbeing boards


The NHS Confederation welcomes the call for more effective provider engagement on health and wellbeing boards, made by the Secretary of State in his letter to health and wellbeing board chairs and NHS chief executives.

The importance of engaging with providers

The NHS Confederation has played a key role in working with partners to highlight the importance of effective provider engagement, recognising that health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) need to have an understanding and be able to influence the delivery, as well as commissioning of services, in order to achieve their goals of improving health and social care for local populations.

Provider involvement, buy-in and commitment are required in order to achieve this, especially where boards are faced with the considerable challenge of transforming and reconfiguring current models of health and care delivery.

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has written to HWBs and NHS chief executives to urge them to ensure they have provider engagement.

The letter echoes key points made by the Confederation, including:

• emphasising the need for, and value of, engaging with providers regarding the Better Care Fund plans if they are to work well and reduce emergency admissions
• highlighting the view that the way engagement happens with providers should be locally decided, not mandated centrally, as local situations and relationships will differ from place to place.

Lack of engagement ‘unacceptable’

Around two thirds of HWBs do not include providers. For some boards, secondary mechanisms have been established to effectively engage providers, but the letter highlights dissatisfaction that this has not worked effectively everywhere. The health secretary describes this is ‘unacceptable’.

Jeremy Hunt urges HWBs that have not engaged with providers effectively to consider redressing this in some way or review whether correct structures and relationships are currently in place.

We urge those charged with this responsibility to make use of the learning and development tools we have produced with partners to help with this task.

Practical support for health and wellbeing boards

We recognise that provider engagement can be a challenge, especially where there are a large number of different providers. However, we are confident that providers have a significant role to play in helping HWBs deliver their duties and goals, informing the JSNA and JHWB strategies locally.

We have brought together some of the innovative ways in which different health and wellbeing boards have engaged with providers, while recognising there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Our Stronger together briefing, published in early 2013, sets out some different approaches HWBs have used to engage with NHS providers.

With partners, we have published practical resources distilling lessons learned from the first year of health and wellbeing boards’ existence. These multimedia products explore the key themes of:

• facilitating shared ownership
• working across boundaries
• the future of system leadership.

Access our resources and find out more about our work with health and wellbeing boards.

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