A growing number of councils working in partnership with the NHS and other local partners, have introduced Health and Wellbeing Hubs as part of local efforts to deliver cost effective, preventive services that take health and wellbeing services out to the public.
While many of the Hubs have adopted an integrated services approach to “wellness” it also clear that housing, health, employment, education and social care are all interconnected and services are linked.
The case for collaborative working in the health and care system has been strengthened by the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. The response to the pandemic has rested on different parts of the system working together to address the public health emergency, enable continued provision of essential services and to support people to remain well in their communities.
Councils have a renewed conviction about the benefits of collaboration and a determination to build on the progress made. Much of the activity to integrate care and improve population health can only be driven at a place or neighbourhood level and through teams delivering services working together on neighbourhood footprints.
The concept of Health and Wellbeing Hubs is nothing new. They create a simple and clear access point to support citizens to make healthier lifestyle choices rather than the multiple, traditional, single issue services that cause confusion for both referrers and the public alike. Accessing the services reduces that demand on the NHS and social care, it means that people get help early on, and they're able to access support easily in their communities. It saves money and it saves people time.
The Health and Wellbeing Hubs featured here, aim to reduce Health Inequalities by helping people to make changes they want in their lifestyle to improve their health and wellbeing by offering practical advice and supported signposting into appropriate services.
Hubs may offer different things in their localities, there is no single blueprint to follow, however, many now include health advocacy, debt advice, mental health support, opportunities to volunteer, employment advice, and signposting of local wide providers of health services, voluntary and community sector activities.
These case studies capture the diversity of local authority approaches and some of the successes that local government can celebrate and build on.