#NHSSM #HWBlearn can you help shape some key social media guidelines?

8437560643_19ffc287a9_oYou may not know this but there’s a corner of local government that’s has a major say in decisions that will affect how your family is treated when they are not well.

They’re called health and wellbeing boards and while they meet at Town Halls they cover the intersection between GPs, local authorities and patients groups.

They also have a say on spending worth £3.8 billion – an eye watering sum in anyone’s book.

The LGA themselves say:

“Health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) are crucial part of the new health landscape, the drivers of local system leadership and will provide an unprecedented opportunity to bring together local government and health services together to improve health and wellbeing outcomes. Local system leadership is required to ensure that the totality of public resources are brought together to address shared priorities for health improvement.”

Okay, so what?

Well, many of them do great work but there’s a growing feeling that they could do better to use social media to really engage with the communities they serve. So we’re helping see how some social media guidelines can help.

Drawing up social media guidelines

We’re a bit excited that the LGA through their health and wellbeing board integrated care and system leadership have asked comms2point0 to take a look at how this could be improved. That’s a real chance to help connect those who are making the decisions with those who are being affected.

So, as part of this review it would be great to crowdsource some ideas and insight from the online community to help shape the guidelines to be the best that they could be.

What questions should we ask?

I’d be keen to understand – particularly from people working with Health and Wellbeing Boards – if social media could play a role?

If it is playing a role already, what that role is and also what success may look like?

Who should we be talking to?

Should we respond?

What could the benefits be?

What are the barriers?

So, how can you help?

If you work in local government, the NHS or have an interest in the NHS I’d welcome your thoughts.

  • There is a #nhssm discussion on Wednesday February 12 from 8pm. Thanks to the brilliant Gemma Finnegan and her colleagues they’re hosting a discussion. Use the hashtag #nhssm to contribute. It would be great if you did.
  • Feel free to comment on this blog post.
  • Ask your council how they are using social media for their health and wellbeing boards.

Thank you!


Join the Conversation


  1. Hi there,

    I am Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board in Bath & North East Somerset. We’ve been using social media at our HWB since our inception. We introduced at our last meeting, a standing item on our agenda where members of the public can submit questions on the agenda via Twitter. We regular tweet throughout the meeting; describing the debate, etc.

    We also webcast our meetings and are regular attracting around 1000 viewers. This has been really well received.

    Healthwatch Bath and North East Somerset have also been using social media to start discussion, get feedback and encourage participation.

    Hope that is helpful.

    Best wishes,


    1. Simon – this sounds like a brilliant example of how local government is embracing health and wellbeing boards. What would you say were the advantages of you using social media at Bath and NE Somerset?

  2. Local authorities have duties to consult, so do CCGs, but Health and Wellbeing Boards are covered by the 2012 Act and S 195 only gives them specific responsibility to encourage integration with service providers etc.

    Although GPs may be involved in HWBBs, it is primarily through CCG Boards as primary care (including GP practices) is commissioned by NHS England and not by CCGs.

    The Better Care Fund will be an early test of the role of HWBBs. The reality though (http://bit.ly/196fzOd) is a bit worrying:

    -Some HWBBs are meeting as infrequently as 3 times a year
    -Most HWBBs are delegating sign-off of first cut BCF plans to Lead Member and Officers with consultation happening in very short timescales out of public view
    -Some HWBBs are only providing a 10 minute BCF update at recent committees or producing reports to be tabled at the meeting
    -Many HWBBs are simply repositories of overlong plans and strategies (remember CCGs also have Boards, LAs also have social care committees and health scrutiny committees making decisions) – a recent HWBB meeting had over 700 pages of reports to work through at its meeting
    -211 CCGs linked to 152 LAs has made the partnering arrangements very complex in some areas compared to 151 PCTs before April 2013 – Counties such as Kent have 7 CCGs hence 17 reports on the BCF Plan on 12 Feb 2014

    There is some value in updating people on progress via Twitter/Facebook (eg @BarDagHWBB tweeted their meeting on 11/2) and some local authorities provide HWBB webcasts (eg Kent on 12/2). These provide ways of keeping in touch with decisions made but opening up a new route for consultation/engagement with a wider audience is much more of a challenge. It would be important to understand how a process might work if LAs/CCGs had also consulted earlier on a plan/strategy and then the HWBB opened up external discussions via social media leading to a different conclusion. Reports going back and forth between HWBBs and other Committees/Boards is a real problem – there is evidence of this with the sheer numbers of agenda items for most HWBB meetings.

    Some services will have to be decommissioned to provide the £3.8bn Better Care Fund pool, the process for aggrieved service providers in challenging a decision needs to be made clear (eg a hospital that has to close wards to release money for the Better Care Fund). Equally, there needs to be clarity around the reporting of performance around plans when LA Social Care or a CCG actually has the responsibility (even though there may be pooled funds in future). This will have an impact on how any HWBB engages/consults a local community.

    It is also important to remember that most staff in the NHS, local authorities etc still do not have social media access.

    In the meantime, the forward thinking, more innovative HWBB partnerships who have sorted out their roles will no doubt use social media to update and hopefully engage, whilst sadly, most of the rest will await instructions from the comms teams in all of the constituent organisations as to what they can communicate after the decision has been made.


    1. Thanks, Mike. You make a really good point about many places will be holding back to see what their comms teams will allow them to do. I absolutely agree with you that it would be interesting to involve people right at the start of the cycle when people are drawing up proposals and policies so they can make a mark – rather than the end when these are being signed off and in many cases quickly rubber stamped.

  3. 152 Health and Wellbeing Boards are connected to £75bn+ of health and care funding out of a total of around £120bn (of which 70% is spent on people with long term conditions). The GP contract, specialist services, NHS England and DH activities sit outside of the £75bn. Most of this amount is locked up in contracts with hospitals, care homes, community services, home care and a range of providers. Day to day, HWBBs are not managing budgets, providing services, consulting with their users. Their primary role (S194-196 of 2012 Act) is to encourage integration and oversee the JSNA, Health and Wellbeing Strategies etc. The first year of their work has been mainly around getting these statutory documents agreed. In recent months this has also included the £3.8bn Better Care Fund reinvestment.

    The HWBBs now need to think about how they can lead on sustainable, cost-effective, integrated services that meet the needs of the local community. It will be all about leadership and service transformation as they will be aware that there is not enough money in the health and care economy to meet needs let alone aspirations. This will mean developing a new ‘contract’ with their citizens and community and social media could assist with this.

    This does not mean complicated social media guidelines and policies for Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc but it does mean the Chair and key members of the Board taking a lead.

    The social media approach (in a tweet) could be along the lines of:

    ‘How can we (the HWBB) join up local health, housing and care services to help you maintain good health and maintain/improve quality of life?’

    As most of the bureaucracy of JSNAs etc has been dealt with in the first year of HWBBs, the Board needs to focus on rounding up outcomes and improvements. HWB Portals & dashboards could simplify achievements. Tweets (summarised on FB and YT) from each HWBB member at each meeting could be used to demonstrate progress eg:

    -Our memory clinics are now seeing people within a week & the integrated care team is following up all discharges where person has dementia

    -Three additional care homes now have wifi and video consultation links to a GP, geriatrician, social worker, MH services

    -The community re-ablement team will be connecting with local community groups – use the XYZ portal to let them know about your service

    -Two more pharmacies are now providing COPD support for 50 people in conjunction with community nurses and the local hospital

    -The ABC Group together with community groups are looking for feedback on the health needs of isolated communities, contact the portal

    Good leadership and a simple approach could make a difference.


  4. Good to read about how the Health and Wellbeing Board in Bath & North East Somerset. are using social media to start discussion, get feedback and encourage participation. I like the idea of a standing item where members of the public can submit questions on the agenda via Twitter.

    I think the first question to ask many local Councils is how they are using social media. Too many public sector organisations are still blocking staff access to social media and using the platforms to broadcast rather than engage.

  5. Of course inviting questions via social media is a possibility.

    But if you look at HWBB agendas, most of the business has started and finished elsewhere (Social Care Committee, CCG Board, Task and Finish Group).

    The HWBB is simply receiving reports, ratifying/signing off decisions with maybe some limited discussion. They are not trawling through the hundreds of pages of agenda reports line by line at each meeting.

    The Board can try and answer a question via social media in real time but most decisions will have been made elsewhere weeks beforehand. The questions need to be asked and citizens involved during the build up and consultation processes or through a scrutiny process.

    By the time it gets to the HWBB it will mostly be clarification. The worst scenario is a HWBB referring a minor health issue raised on Twitter back to several CCGs and then getting a report back in 4 months time at the next meeting reconfirming the position.


  6. I strongly suspect that this will be another case of the already-good authorities and partnerships getting even better, and the laggards continuing to lag. A crucial determinant for the range, accessibility and openness of any HWB social media approach will be the approach already in place (or not) by the host local and health authority.

    I cannot see base metal being turned to gold for the HWB from any local authority who still restrict their social media presence to broadcasting, and fail to use it to engage properly with their existing communities. Even if good ideas were to come forward in such areas, there will be too many of the “usual suspects” in the decision-making chain, who will be likely to kill them stone dead.

    And what’s more, of course, the good, enlightened social media users will already have got their social media use strategies and guidelines sorted. I very much doubt that anything really new will need to be added to such, to incorporate the needs of the local HWB. The job will be to persuade the HWB and the delivery process it manages to adopt what already works well. I’m pessimistic that designing a great social media strategy for the HWB in an area dragging its feet on social media for real engagement will make a wider impact within that local authority etc. It’d be nice if it did, but I’ll not go looking for any flying pigs.

    Sorry, not going to be able to contribute to the online session this evening.

    (A re-post from memory of comments sent earlier that somehow got booted into cyberspace before they appeared here!)


  7. Hi, in Leeds the council and NHS organisations have developed shared social media guidance for staff. It took some doing but not impossible. It will no doubt be added to over time but we are sharing it so other organisations in Leeds (and elsewhere) may take advantage of it. It’s available here http://www.leeds.gov.uk/council/Pages/Social-media.aspx

    We are also telling the story of how we are trying to be more sociable.Link here http://trulysocial.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/shift-happens/

    Our health and well being board uses twitter and blog posts to both inform and engage and live tweets from the board meetings.

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