Evaluating the Role of Health & Wellbeing

Evaluating the leadership role of health and wellbeing boards as drivers of health improvement and integrated care across England.

(PI: David Hunter with Co-Investigators: Shelina Visram (both Newcastle University); Rachael Finn, Sheffield University, Jennifer Gosling, LSHTM, Lee Adams and Amanda Forrest, (both independent consultants); and Research Associate: Neil Perkins, Independent Researcher (formerly Research Associate, Durham University until 31 July 2017); Administrator Christine.Pearson@newcastle.ac.uk

Since April 2013, each local authority in England has been required to have a Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB). These Boards bring together partners from the council and NHS, along with public representation, in an effort to ensure that local health needs drive local decision-making. There was considerable optimism about the potential for HWBs to deliver effective partnership working in order to improve health and offer better integration of health and social care. However, little evidence exists to show that similar partnerships have been effective and there is concern that power will not be redistributed in the new system, meaning that the views of local people may not be heard.

Our aim in this study has been to evaluate how well HWBs in England function, and whether this helps HWBs achieve their objectives to extend democracy, support shared decision-making and promote integrated service provision to improve health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities, and achieve better quality care. The study started in January 2015 and ended in October 2017.

We will explore factors that helped or hindered HWBs in fulfilling their role, and worked with policy and practice partners to share examples of good practice. Field work will include a national survey of HWBs, and in-depth case studies in fiveselected local authorities. We ran a series of workshops and events to share good practice. Ethical issues concern confidentiality and safekeeping on data and appropriate University policies will be observed. We anticipate our work resulting in improvements to partnership working and decision-making processes by demonstrating what works well for different populations.

The team includes expertise in local government, public health and NHS research, leadership and management theory and practice, and public service user engagement and involvement. A project advisory group will provide guidance to the project.

A Health & Wellbeing conference took place on the 26th September 2017, a copy of the presentation can be found here: Health & Wellbeing Conference September 2017

The final report has now been published and can be accessed at Health & Wellbeing Report.