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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 11/09/2020 - 12:59

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  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectoral cooperation


Main governmental and public actors involved in policy-making

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), a ministerial department leads, shapes and funds health and care. Children's health is one of its policy areas.

The remit of Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care, is to protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities.  

NHS England, an executive non-departmental public body, leads the National Health Service (NHS). It sets the priorities and direction of the NHS and encourages and informs the national debate to improve health and care.  

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is a non-departmental public body providing national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. One of its 'population groups' is children and young people.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care.

At local level, local authorities have, since 1 April 2013, been responsible for improving the health of their local population and for public health services.  Also, Health and Wellbeing Boards, established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, plan how to meet the needs of the local population through commissioning and integrating all health services and how to tackle local inequalities in health. The boards are  established by local authorities and bring together the NHS, public health, adult social care and children's services, including elected representatives and Local Healthwatch organisations (which champion the interests of service users).

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), also established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 are clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of clinical health care services for their local area and must be represented on Health and Wellbeing Boards.

In developing health and wellbeing strategies for their local areas, Health and Wellbeing Boards must have regard to the Government's annual mandate to NHS England, which sets out the Government’s priorities and the budget for the NHS.  Objectives in the 2019/20 mandate were different to other years due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock states

Given the exceptional circumstances, I am setting NHS England and NHS Improvement a very brief mandate for 2020-21 to provide important clarity for the system about the headline objectives that we need NHS support to achieve at this difficult time. My intention is to replace this with a further mandate that takes account of the NHS's capacity to achieve our wider goals in light of developments with Covid-19, once the virus has been effectively managed.

The five objectives included in the 2020 mandate are not specifically related to children and young people, but outline aims to delay and mitigate spread of COVID-19,  ensure progress towards the effective implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan and to help ensure delivery of its wider priorities including planning for life outside of the EU once the transition period ends. 

Further information on Health and Wellbeing Boards is available in this House of Commons Library briefing.

Local authorities have a wider duty to promote healthy lifestyles in their areas and are providers and commissioners of community sport and leisure facilities.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for a wide cross-section of policy which affects young people, including arts and culture, tourism and heritage, media and digital, civil society and social action, and sport.

Sport England is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Sport England’s strategic aims are to get more people from every background regularly and meaningfully engaging in sport and physical activity, and to work towards a more productive, sustainable and responsible sport sector.  Its remit covers adults and children from the age of 5 (apart from school sport, which is delivered through the Department for Education). Sport England is also a statutory consultee on planning applications that affect playing fields in England.

At a local level, Sport England is supported by County Sports Partnerships, networks of local agencies committed to working together to increase the number of people taking part in sport and physical activity. Sport England is also responsible for measuring both the levels of activity of children and young people and the correlation between children and young people’s attitudes and physical activity through the Active Lives (Children and Young People) survey, which was launched in September 2017 and should reach over 100,000 children each year.

The House of Commons Health Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and its associated bodies.

The responsibilities of the Minister of State for School Standards and Minister for Equalities within the Department for Education (DfE) include children and young people's mental health in schools.

The Children's Commissioner for England is an independent statutory office, which aims to promote and protect the interests of children and young people across a range of areas, including physical and mental health. The Commissioner speaks up for children and young people so that policymakers and the people who have an impact on their lives take their views and interests into account when making decisions about them.

Main non-public actors involved in policy-making          

There is a wide range of non-government organisations which seek to influence policy making in young people’s health and wellbeing. These include:

The Kings Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England by undertaking research and analysis, developing individuals, teams and organisations, building capability to improve care, promoting understanding of the health and social care system and bringing people together – through events and networks.  

The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate, to learn, share knowledge and debate.

The Association for Young People’s Health (AYPH) is a charity working in the area of young people’s health. Its work includes:

  • involving young people and making sure their views are heard
  • working with healthcare providers to improve services for young people
  • improving access to information, resources and innovation
  • promoting evidence-based practice and highlighting important data
  • increasing communication between practitioners from different sectors.

The Youth Sport Trust is a charity which promotes awareness of how physical education and school sport can deliver whole school positive outcomes to improve attainment, physical and mental wellbeing and inclusion.

The Association for Physical Education (afPE) is the membership subject association for physical education. Its main purpose is to promote and maintain high standards and safe practice in all aspects and at all levels of physical education, school sport and physical activity influencing developments at national and local levels that will impact on pupils’ physical health and emotional well-being.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is an independent, multidisciplinary charity dedicated to the improvement of the public’s health and wellbeing. Its object is to inform policy and practice, and educate and support communities and individuals to live healthily.

The Young Health Movement (YHM) is a peer driven approach to raising public health awareness among young people, run by RSPH. YHM works with a wide variety of young people’s services, including local authorities, schools and colleges, youth centres and organisations, charities and community groups. It has developed a national network of young people’s health and wellbeing services, resources and points of information.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

Cross-sectoral cooperation is embedded in the approach to policy making. For example, Public Health England has produced a framework for national and local action to address the specific public health needs of young people and ensure their future health, Improving Young People’s Health and Wellbeing. This framework was developed with support from the charity Association of Young People’s Health and with input from  across health, education, youth services and local and national government.

The statutory Health and Wellbeing Boards, established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, act as forums in which  leaders from the local health and care system can work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local populations. They bring together clinical, political, professional and community leaders to address local health challenges.