Legal Context

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 has given local authorities (LAs) and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) equal and joint duties to prepare a Joint Strategic Needs’ Assessment (JSNA) through the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB Board).

  • The responsibility falls on the HWB Board as a whole.
  • The HWB Board must involve the local HealthWatch and local community throughout the process, including those who are socially excluded, vulnerable or who have communication difficulties.

JSNAs are assessments of the current and future health and social care needs of the community; needs, often at the high-level, that could be met by the LA, CCG, or NHS England.

JSNAs are unique to each area, and will reflect local ways of working; local areas are free to undertake JSNAs in a way best suited to local circumstance.

JSNA outputs must be published and available to the local community to show what evidence has been considered and what priorities have been agreed and why.

  • The purpose of the JSNA is to improve the health and wellbeing of the local community and reduce inequalities for all ages. They are not an end in themselves but a continuous process of strategic assessment and planning. The core aim is to develop local evidence based priorities for commissioning.
  • The aim of the JSNA is to help HWB Boards to consider the factors that impact on the whole community’s health and wellbeing, and local assets that can help to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities.
  • The importance of the JSNA lies in how they are used locally; plans for commissioning, including the joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy, are expected to be informed by the JSNA. The JSNA may also be used to inform and promote the integration of health and social care services by providing a joint evidence base and understanding

JSNAs are continuous processes and are an integral part of CCG and local authority commissioning cycles. It is for boards to decide how and how often JSNAs are undertaken, but they will need to assure themselves that the evidence based priorities are up to date.

To be transparent and to enable wider participation, boards should be clear with their partners and the community about what their timing cycles are and when outputs will be published.

As JSNAs must consider the current and future health and social care needs of the whole population, and ensure mental health receives equal priority to physical health, JSNAs should have information that covers:

  • Demographics – across the life course
  • Inequalities – disadvantaged areas and vulnerable groups
  • Wider social, environmental and economic factors
  • Health protection
  • Upstream prevention – reducing the need for acute and intensive health and care services
  • Residents’ and patients’ views, particularly through the involvement of HealthWatch
  • Assets within local communities

You can also read the full statutory guidance published in 2012.