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30/4/2012 - New Health and Wellbeing Board kick starts shadow year

Cumbria's new Health and Wellbeing Board (CHW) was launched on Friday, April 27, to help improve the health of the population in the county as the transfer of responsibility for a range of public health services moves from NHS Cumbria to Cumbria County Council.

From April 2013 - following the recently passed Health and Social Care Act - there will be changes in the health and social care system designed to improve the quality and choice of care for patients, and give GPs and other clinicians the primary responsibility for commissioning health care.

The new shadow board will enable the new body to begin working together, pooling expertise and helping to create a strategy for the county ahead of it becoming a formal organisation.

It brings together local commissioners of health and social care, public health, councillors, and HealthWatch to agree an approach to improving local health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities. They will build strong and effective partnerships which improve commissioning and delivery of services across the NHS and local government.

With its first meeting on Friday the CHW Board looked ahead at the transfer of health services and at four key areas in the county:

  • Health inequalities
  • Children and young people
  • Mental health and alcohol
  • Ageing population

Cllr James Airey, Chairman of the CHW Board and Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: "This is a new group of people, operating in a new way, to make a big difference to the people of Cumbrians. We want health care to be more efficient, more effective and have better outcomes.

"This board is at the centre of a big shift in the delivery of public health and in the relationship between local authorities and the NHS in Cumbria, and the early and effective implementation of the board here means the county council is well placed to provide leadership for the future of health in Cumbria.

"We've got a great opportunity to continue our positive work with the local NHS, and especially with the new clinical commissioning groups, to ensure we can make sure local needs are met."

Dr Geoff Joliffe, one of the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group's lead GPs and a member of the CWB, said: "This is a very exciting opportunity for Cumbria. This new board is a different way of bringing together the main public bodies to benefit health and wellbeing in the county.

"Although driven from the county council, it's a new type of local government organisation in that it brings together the county and district councils, health service including General Practitioners to make key decisions about how inequalities in health should be tackled and public money invested.

"As the Board develops, we will be using new ways to engage the public in helping to shape this extremely important agenda for the health and wellbeing of the county.

"Cumbria has been preparing for this for the last three years and with commitment of all parties we will be able to put the county on the national map for this work in the months and years ahead."

Media enquiries to communications adviser Chris Little on 01228 226685.