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Role of the Voluntary Sector and Community Engagement in JSNA

The Department of Health partnered with the VODG in 2010/11 to lead a workstream on the role of the Voluntary Sector and local communities in Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

JSNA is a statutory duty on local authorities and health to work in partnership to undertake an overarching assessment of the health and wellbeing needs of their area. The process is intended to lead to stronger partnerships between communities, local government and the NHS, providing a firm foundation for commissioning that improves health and social care services, encourages local innovation, reduces health inequalities and delivers better services.

The role of the voluntary and community sector in the process clearly has enormous potential – as providers of services with an understanding of local need, gaps in service and quality of service; as advocates and in facilitating access to the voice of vulnerable local people and communities.

However, while JSNA has been a statutory duty since 2007, as late as 2009, feedback indicated that effective engagement of the sector remained an aspiration in most areas, despite a strong emphasis in the original guidance that this was crucial to the JSNA mission.

Accordingly, during 2010/11 the Department of Health partnered with VODG to lead work to better embed the role of the voluntary and community sector in JSNA. The work focused on 4 key areas:

  • National voluntary sector organisations - working with the DH Strategic Partners programme to better develop the role national  voluntary sector organisations can play in JSNA and what they can offer local commissioners
  • Local voice of the voluntary sector, work with NAVCA, ACEVO, to enable local CVS’s and other infrastructure organisations to contribute to the JSNA
  • Community engagement - driving public, patient and service user experiences through LINks and local community engagement strategies
  • Developing best practice - the production of national good practice resources and case studies, co-developed and disseminated with the sector

JSNA continues to be at the heart of the government’s reforms for the NHS.

In December 2011 the Department of Health published Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and joint health and wellbeing strategies explained (PDF 180Kb)

Most recently in January 2012 the Department of Health  issued Draft Guidance on JSNA and Health and Wellbeing Boards The purpose of this document is to support emerging health and wellbeing boards as they engage with the refresh of Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and develop their preparatory joint health and wellbeing strategy.

We are delighted that the Department of Health continues to build on the work we partnered with them in 2010/11 in this new Guidance, emphasising the ‘vital role’ of the voluntary sector, local people, communities, HealthWatch and the Compact in JSNA and Health and Wellbeing Strategies.