DOCTOR FEELGOOD

We’re approaching the six month milestone of Public Health officially moving back to Local Government and the launch of Health and Wellbeing Boards. Here at BDO, we’re lucky enough to have a fantastic Healthcare Advisory practice which sits alongside our Local Government team and together we have been exploring the impact of the changes to public health.

We’re particularly interested in the way that Health and Wellbeing Boards operate. There is already a plethora of research and guidance into how effectively the Boards are set up and how they should set their priorities but we’ve noticed there’s not currently much guidance available to support health and wellbeing boards effectively engage with their stakeholders. We are therefore carrying out a short piece of research focusing on just this issue, to be published in Spring 2014.

Successful stakeholder engagement is the crux of a truly representative local Health Board. In the same way that Police and Crime Commissioners provide an additional layer of democratic accountability, Health and Wellbeing Boards provide the opportunity for elected representatives to work with clinicians and patient groups to ensure that public health funding is targeted at the most serious issues that affect individual areas.

The success of these Boards will therefore be predicated on their ability to bridge the gap between providers and members of the public. This is a considerable challenge considering the remit of public health is enormous. Issues range from tackling the abundance of betting shops on high streets to measures to encourage early intervention in chronic conditions such as HIV or Diabetes.

The Boards will have to work with a cross section of local organisations to set the right priorities, ensure that these are being met and ensure that spending on public health is targeted at the issues most important to local people.

We are therefore focusing our research on how best Health and Wellbeing Boards can both engage and demonstrate successful engagement with their stakeholders with the aim of providing a set of good practice tools for Boards across the country. As part of this we are currently interviewing a range of key stakeholders from local Healthwatch organisations to Police and Crime Commissioner’s offices.

If you are a member of a Health and Wellbeing Board or work closely with them to set local public health priorities and would like to share your best practice, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch at Antonia.jeans@bdo.co.uk.

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