Learning from Health and Wellbeing Boards’ first full year offered for peers’ future development

Lessons learned during the first full year’s operation of Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) have been distilled into multi-media resources for sharing across the Health and Wellbeing community, so that HWB members across England can learn how their peers overcame challenges to progress system-wide strategic leadership.

Drawn from experiences of individual Boards and Board members over the first 12 months, the resources form part of an end-of-year focus on sharing HWBs’ learning, which was also marked by a major event on 19 March organised by the Local Government Association (LGA) and its partners.

At the event, HWB members drawn from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), local authorities, Healthwatch and the voluntary sector came together for a series of presentations and workshops which offered delegates the benefit of their peers’ and sector leaders’ learning. There was lots of discuss about the achievements of the past year for HWBs and the challenges facing them.

With keynote presentations from Jon Rouse, Director General for Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships at the Department of Health, Michael Coughlin, Executive Director at the Local Government Association, and Ivan Ellul, Director of Partnerships at NHS England, the event incorporated workshops focused on making best use of public health data, building relationships with partner bodies, and ensuring good representation of the consumer’s voice. Also presenting were Phil Swann, Managing Director at Shared Intelligence, Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of health and wellbeing, Public Health and Richard Humphries, Assistant Director of Policy at the King’s Fund.

Delegates were also given the first exclusive access to videos and slide-packs that draw together the output from three previous workshops. The slide-packs pull together learning and insight from the past year on HWBs’ development of their role as system leaders.

In the resources, HWB members and officers share their candid thoughts on how to work across boundaries, how to facilitate shared ownership, and the future of system leadership.

Dr Johnny Marshall, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation, which led on producing the resources, said:

“There has never been a more important time for local leaders across the health and wellbeing system to work together. Only by bringing together leaders from across the whole system, not just their own organisations, will the Boards really deliver genuine transformation in the care, health and wellbeing of their local populations.”

“But working across organisational boundaries can test even some of the most established organisations, and it is an even bigger challenge for organisations at such an early stage of development as Health and Wellbeing Boards.”

“In reflecting on the first year of their existence, however, what we found is that not only have many Boards gone from 0 to 60 in terms of learning, but also that there is a huge amount of self-awareness in terms of their development – both how far they have come, and where they are on their development journey. With high awareness too of the benefits of sharing – shared leadership, shared approaches, and shared learning – as well as the value of a ‘can do’ attitude, the potential for Health and Wellbeing Boards is immense.”

Executive Director at the Local Government Association, which led organisation of the event, Michael Coughlin said:

“It has been a challenging and rewarding year for the Health and Wellbeing Boards with lots to celebrate. Our health and wellbeing systems improvement programme has effectively supported local HWBs through a range of products, including the provision of the self-assessment toolkit and peer challenges, which were particularly well received, providing a rich source of wider learning with demonstrable impact locally. Sharing knowledge and learning has been at the heart of the programme and we provided HWBs with a wealth of data and opportunities for learning via our online platform. Going forward our focus will be to identify and support places in most need of assistance and to develop more bespoke support such as mentoring, chair networks, peer support and development days. We look forward to working with HWBs in meeting challenges and building on the success of the past year.”

Director of Partnerships at NHS England, which is responsible for development of Health and Wellbeing Boards, Ivan Ellul said:

“Health and wellbeing boards are an absolutely key part of the changes brought about by the health and social care act. They are the one forum that brings together elected members, clinicians and other members of the local community.  They are already having a big impact; we’re seeing how they are bringing together local parties to discuss the integration of care and how they are pooling budgets, how they are getting clinicians much more involved in debates about local services. The future challenge is that there is going to be a massive transformation of health and care over the next few years and HWBs have a major role to play in that as local leaders. They will need to improve the way they engage providers in that debate.”

The three slide-packs and videos can be downloaded from the NHS Confederation website.

Further information can be found on Dr Graham Jackson’s blog: Health and Wellbeing Boards – if there’s a will, is there a way?