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Health and Wellbeing Boards: a new dawn for public health partnerships?

Neil Perkins (Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
David James Hunter (Durham University)

Journal of Integrated Care

ISSN: 1476-9018

Article publication date: 15 December 2014




The purpose of this paper is to consider the effectiveness of partnership working in public health and draws on a systematic review of public health partnerships and original research conducted by the authors. It then considers in the light of research evidence whether the recently established Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act will help agencies to work together more effectively to improve population health or will go the way of previous initiatives and fall short of their original promise.


The paper is based on a systematic literature review conducted by the authors and empirical research focusing upon the ability of public health partnerships to reduce health inequalities and improve population health outcomes. It also draws on recent studies evaluating HWBs.


The paper finds that, hitherto, public health partnerships have had limited impact on improving population health and reducing health inequalities and that there is a danger that HWBs will follow the same path-dependent manner of previous partnership initiatives with limited impact in improving population health outcomes and reducing health inequalities.

Research limitations/implications

The research draws on a systematic literature review and further scoping review of public health partnerships, in addition to empirical research conducted by the authors. It also reviews the current evidence base on HWBs. It is recognised that HWBs are in their early stages and have not as yet had the time to fulfil their role in service collaboration and integration.

Practical implications

The paper gives an overview of how and why public health partnerships in the past have not lived up to the expectations placed upon them. It then offers practical steps that HWBs need to take to take to ensure the mistakes of the past are not replicated in the future.

Social implications

The research outlines how public health partnerships can operate in a more effective manner, to ensure a more seamless provision for service users. The paper then gives pointers as to how this can benefit HWBs and the wider community they serve.


The paper draws on a comprehensive research study of the effectiveness of public health partnerships on improving health outcomes and a systematic literature review. In addition, it also draws upon the current evidence base evaluating HWBs, to inform the discussion on their future prospects, in regard to partnership working in public health and promoting service integration.



Perkins, N. and Hunter, D.J. (2014), "Health and Wellbeing Boards: a new dawn for public health partnerships?", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 22 No. 5/6, pp. 220-229.



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