Looking to improve county’s wellbeing

THE first public meeting of the West Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board will be held next week (Thursday April 19) at County Hall in Chichester.

Chaired by County Council leader Louise Goldsmith, the West Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board brings together the NHS, public health, social care, and elected representatives to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of the county’s population and reduce health inequalities.

The Board will have responsibility for setting priorities to improve the health and wellbeing of the county’s residents, monitoring local services and support and ensuring what is available across West Sussex meets local needs.

Its membership includes representatives from West Sussex County Council, NHS Sussex and the three Clinical Commissioning Groups in West Sussex.

The Board has been meeting in shadow form for the past 12 months but next Thursday (19 April) will be its first official public meeting.

During the meeting, members of the public will be able to hear the Board consider the proposed Health and Wellbeing Strategy for West Sussex. The Strategy sets out priorities looking at how the county’s population health can be improved and inequalities addressed.

There will also be an update on end of life and palliative care across the County.

The Board was formed as a result of the recently passed Health and Social Care Act, which overhauled the way health spending decisions are made.

From April there will be a Health and Wellbeing Board in each top tier and unitary authority area.

The aim of the Boards is to strengthen working relationships between health and social care, and to encourage the development of more integrated commissioning of these services.

As a result local authorities have been presented with a larger say in commissioning strategies through these boards giving communities a greater say in addressing local health and social care needs.

The Boards will also play a key role in ensuring a smooth transition of public health from the NHS to West Sussex County Council over the next 12 months.

The Health and Social Care Act also means that local GPs and clinicians will take on responsibility for local NHS services from next April. Working as Clinical Commissioning Groups, they will take over the local NHS budget from primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, both of which will cease to be next year. The CCGs will play a key role in the Boards as they start to take on an increasing role in the commissioning of health services over the next twelve months.

Louise said: “As a county council we have a wonderful opportunity to influence and shape local health and social care services in partnership with our NHS colleagues and making a difference to the health of our local communities.

“Nothing is more important than our residents’ health and as councillors we are accountable to our electors and so have a good feel for what the priorities should be. We look forward to continuing our positive work with the local NHS, especially with the new clinical commissioning groups, to ensure we can make sure local needs are met.”

Amanda Fadero, Chief Executive of NHS Sussex, said: “The NHS and local authorities have a strong history of working together in West Sussex. We already jointly commission many of our services together, spending more than £200million in partnership, on areas including mental health, services for people with learning difficulties, older people, substance misuse, and children’s services.

“We were chosen to launch our Health and Wellbeing Board last year as one of the first in the country and have been working hard to ensure that health and social care becomes increasingly joined up. Building on the good work that the West Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board has already started, we will now be able to further increase the joint working between health, social care and public health for the benefit of local people.”