Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and upper-tier local authorities are required to prepare an assessment of the relevant health and social care needs of the area through the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) – these are called Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs).

The main rationale for the establishment of HWBs is recognition that health and wellbeing outcomes relate to factors beyond the health service. These are linked to wider determinants, such as education, work and the environment, which are the responsibility of local authorities and other agencies outside the healthcare system; hence joint strategic needs assessments, as local authorities are required to engage in their preparation with the CCGs.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 requires that the development of JSNAs involve district councils and anyone who lives and works in the area. The key focus of the JSNA is to understand current and future health and well-being needs, and existing provision over the short (3-5 years) and long term (5-10 years), and inform commissioning decisions to address these needs.

There are separate JSNAs for Kent and Medway:

Each JSNA is made up of an overview summary report (refreshed every three years) and multiple needs assessments (based on programme area/ risk group) and other evidence.

The Kent and Medway Public Health Observatory includes health and social care maps for each of Kent’s twelve districts as well as Medway. These provide an overview of healthcare needs and service gaps for the locality, such as population mix, deprivation and health performance data. Being aligned to the JSNA and refreshed on a quarterly basis, these maps provide a robust and up-to-date data set. They are potentially very useful for targeting environmental projects aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities, as well as for informing the development of Local Plan documents, Supplementary Planning Documents and neighbourhood plans.

Sustainability professionals may also wish to explore the scope to introduce relevant environmental datasets (e.g. on air quality, access to green space) to the health and social care maps to enhance the understanding of environmental determinants of health.