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First year of HWBs ‘challenging yet rewarding’

The first 12 months of the health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) has been “challenging” yet “rewarding” with lots to celebrate, according to Michael Coughlin, executive director at the Local Government Association (LGA). 

Speaking at an event to reflect on the progress of HWBs, he added that the LGA’s health and wellbeing systems improvement programme has supported local HWBs through a range of products and knowledge sharing. 

Coughlin said: “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.” 

Introduced formally in April 2013, HWBs bring together all parts of the local health and care system to improve commissioning and achieve better health outcomes. 

Their system leadership is designed to deliver integrated care, transforming services to address the financial and demographic challenges, and tackling health inequalities, said the NHS Confederation. 

Ivan Ellul, director of partnerships at NHS England, also stated that many HWBs are bringing together local parties to discuss the integration of care and how they are pooling budgets, and are looking at how to get 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,” said Ellul. “They will need to improve the way they engage providers in that debate.” 

Dr Johnny Marshall, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “We found 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.” 

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