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The Role, responsibilities and functions of the Health and Wellbeing Board

What is the Health and Wellbeing Board?

The Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board is a forum for key leaders from the health and care system to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population and reduce health inequalities. 

Each top tier and unitary authority has its own health and wellbeing board.  Board members work together to understand their local community’s needs, agree priorities and encourage commissioners to work in a more joined up way.  As a result, patients and the public should experience more joined-up services from the NHS and local councils in the future. 

The Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board took on their statutory functions in April 2013.

Visit www.healthysuffolk.org.uk to find out more about the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board.


Health and wellbeing boards are a key part of the broader plan to modernise the NHS to:

  • ensure stronger democratic legitimacy and involvement,
  • strengthen working relationships between health and social care,
  • encourage the development of more integrated commissioning of services,
  • help give communities a greater say in understanding and addressing their local health and social care needs. 

What do they do?

  • The Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board has strategic influence over commissioning decisions across health, public health and social care.  
  • The Board will strengthen democratic legitimacy by involving democratically elected representatives and patient representatives in commissioning decisions alongside commissioners across health and social care. The board will also provide a forum for challenge, discussion, and the involvement of local people. 
  • The Board will bring together clinical commissioning groups and councils to develop a shared understanding of the health and wellbeing needs of the community.  They will undertake the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and develop a joint strategy for how these needs can be best addressed.  This will include recommendations for joint commissioning and integrating services across health and care. 
  • Through undertaking the JSNA, the board drives local commissioning of health care, social care and public health to help create a more effective and responsive local health and care system.  Other services that impact on health and wellbeing such as housing and education provision are also addressed.  

Who sits on the board?

The Health and Social Care Bill mandates a minimum membership of:  
  • one local elected representative
  • a representative of the local Healthwatch organisation
  • a representative of each local clinical commissioning group
  • the local authority director for adult social services
  • the local authority director for children’s services
  • the director of public health for the local authority
    Local boards will be free to expand their membership to include a wide range of perspectives and expertise, such as representatives from the charity or voluntary sectors. 
  • Membership is not the only way to engage with the work of the boards, all boards regardless of their political or geographic make-up will be expected to ensure that the needs of local people as a whole are taken into account. 

How can local communities get involved?

  • The Board operates under a statutory duty to involve local people in the preparation of Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and the development of joint health and wellbeing strategies. 
  • Each health and wellbeing board has a local Healthwatch representative member. 
  • Local Healthwatch will have a formal role of involving the public in major decision-making around health and social care and its work feeds into that of the health and wellbeing board.
  • All health and wellbeing boards be accountable to local people through having local councillors as members of the board. 
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