Our annual “state of the nation” reports on health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) are widely recognised as the most authoritative barometer of these important partnership bodies.

The titles of the four reports, which were commissioned by the LGA, tell a crisp history of the boards and their effectiveness:

  • Great Expectations (April 2014);
  • Stick With It! (February 2015);
  • The Force Begins to Awaken (March 2016); and
  • The Power of Place (April 2017).

The reports drew on a number of sources of evidence, the richest of which are the feedback to places from LGA health and wellbeing peer challenge visits. These findings provided powerful insight into the opportunities and challenges facing HWBs and the ways in which they are responding to them. We also drew extensively on unattributable interviews with HWB chairs and other board members including senior council officers, directors of public health and representatives from HealthWatch and clinical commissioning groups.

Another important source of evidence has been the team of advisers that the LGA has commissioned to work with boards. They provided valuable insight into the direction of travel in terms of board development and the support they need. We also used sense-making events, bringing together local and national stakeholders, to validate our findings, make sense of them and craft helpful conclusions.

Our reports have identified a number of themes which have helped to crystallise thinking about the how the boards have developed and the factors which determine their effectiveness. This includes the concept of “collaborative plumbing” which is intended to reflect the extent to which an area has a history and culture of collaboration. Most recently we have described the most effect HWBs as “anchors of place”. These boards have reasserted a focus on the wider determinants of health and exercise a place leadership role.

The objective of the reports is not only to describe the HWB “state of the nation”, but also to draw out key findings which can help boards to improve their effectiveness. The reports have identified the key drivers of effectiveness of HWBs. Our most recent report concludes with a short self-assessment questionnaire which boards can use to identify areas which require attention and a set of top tips.

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