The Health and Social Care Act 2012 mandates that each local authority must establish a Health and Wellbeing Board for its area, and that that Board must consist of at least one representative from each clinical commissioning group.
There is also a separate duty on clinical commissioning groups to co-operate with the Health and Wellbeing Board in the exercise of the functions of the Board.
The functions of Health and Wellbeing Boards include the 'encouragement' of persons who arrange for the provision of any health or social services in an area to work in an 'integrated manner' and to provide advice and assistance or other support to encourage the making of arrangements under section 75 of the National Health Service Act 2006 (ie partnership arrangements between health bodies and health-related local authority services).
Last week NHS Confederation released a new publication - Stronger together: how health and wellbeing boards can work effectively with local providers?. This publication emphasises the importance of involving and engaging local providers many of which already have strong relationships with service users. It also explains the significant contribution which provider engagement can make to service integration.
Although this report focuses on the role of Health and Wellbeing Boards in interactive engagement with providers in our view it is equally important for commissioners to engage with providers. Commissioners should ensure that they use the mechanisms within their contracts with providers to engage with them in the development of service provision.