Building Health Partnerships Programme (2013)


The Building Health Partnerships Programme aims to maximise the potential of collaboration between CCGs and local voluntary and community and social enterprise organisations to improve health in local communities.

The programme is supported by the NHS Commissioning Board and jointly delivered by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR).


It leads on from the successful pilot Health Commissioning Improvement Programme from 2012, where we worked with four regions:

  • Cornwall
  • South Cheshire
  • St Helens 
  • Central Bedfordshire

The Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health and Wellbeing Board, and Voluntary,  Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector, assessed the local challenges and opportunities, and provided support across the sectors to develop understanding, systems and partnerships that supported effective local health commissioning. The Power of Partnerships guide uses the learning from the pilot and real experiences to offer practical tools and support to CCGs, HWBs and VCSE organisations to develop effective partnerships to deliver better health care. 

Its aim is to help people working in health to think differently, more creatively and more practically than ever before about the opportunities they have to meet changing health needs in difficult economic times.

Read the detailed report about the pilot programme. Alternatively view a brief summary of the outcomes. 



  • Assist CCGs to realise their aspirations for truly meaningful engagement with patients, carers and their communities
  • Enable the building of trust and mutual understanding between voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations and CCGs
  • Enable senior staff in CCGs and VCSE to take key leadership roles in responding to the challenges of transforming health commissioning and delivery of improved health outcomes through cross-sector collaboration
  • Develop and implement local programmes of intervention for more effective engagement of the VCSE sector in health commissioning and delivery of improved health outcomes
  • Facilitate the sharing of innovative models of effective working and successful approaches to clinical commissioning thus enabling the spread of best practice


The programme for 2013/2014 we worked with 12 regions: 

  • Bristol have facilitated new access - via GP referral - to alternative, culturally appropriate VCSE health services for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) diabetics, read more here.
  • Croydon Piloted a project in two of the most deprived wards, focusing on communities designing their own approaches to self-care and health improvement to shift focus away from specialist services towards prevention and creating strong social networks.
  • City & Hackney piloted a social prescribing model to improve the health of isolated over 50s and people with type 2 diabetes, here
  • Dudley has created a common system for demonstrating and measuring social impact, which makes commissioning a more collaborative process, leading to better health and care outcomes, read more here or watch a short film here.
  • Durham Dales Easington and Sedgefield have developed a Community Health Navigator scheme through to support individuals to take ownership of their health and wellbeing, encouraging uptake of community-based services and reducing usage of primary health services, read more here
  • North Hampshire
  • Bradford & Airedale
  • Manchester has improved access to health care for LGB&T individuals, read more here, or watch a short film here. For the clinical rationale and advice about replicating work for other under-represented groups see The LGF's BHP webpage.
  • Shropshire
  • Staffordshire have been building a database of localvoluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) services for the frail elderly and people with longterm health conditions which has enabled a them pilot a new commissioning model based on need, read more here.
  • Swindon piloting a new referal systems to reduce readmissions for individuals being discharged from mental health services, read more here.
  • Wakefield have been looking at how the social prescribing model is providing a strategic wayto build resourceful communities, read more here.


Programme Updates

Emerging actions from the 12 learning sites (August 2013)

Update on expert led seminars (August 2013)

Building Health Partnerships Progress Report (November 2013)

January 2014 bulletin to BHP learning sites


Social prescribing action learning 

Five of the BHP learning sites are piloting different models of social prescribing projects, read this brief summaryOn 14th March 2014 the Swindon Building Health Partnership hosted an action learning set on social prescribing, with four other BHP learning sites to discuss and share the learning from their social prescribing schemes. Here's a report from the day and presentations from the learning sites: Dudley, Swindon (Horizons), Swindon (Wellbeing Pilot), South Staffs &Seisdon Peninsula.  


Expert Led Seminars

Each learning site has the opportunity to use a session to explore an issue to do with health and care commissioning, selected to enhance both local and national objectives of BHP, and the development of their local action plan.

  • Social Impact Bonds - Swindon wanted to find out more about how they could use social impact bonds. See Richard Todd's from Social Finance presentation for an introduction.
  • Social Value - A number of the learning sites were interested in improving their understanding of social value. See Jenni Inglis' from VIE presentation for the session with Wakefield.
  • Social Prescribing - Tina Strack from Nesta attended a session in Hackney to talk about the lessons from their People Powered Health programme. View the presentation here.

Follow the discussion on twitter @bhealthp



The Health and Social Care Bill represents the biggest change in health care delivery since the inauguration of the NHS. There are major changes both nationally and locally to how services will be delivered and commissioned. One central alteration is the transference of commissioning to clinicians at a more local level. 

The VCSE sector has a significant role to play in the delivery of health and social care, in assessing need, reaching out to vulnerable sectors of the community, as well as delivering services. Just over a quarter of voluntary sector organisations and a third of all social enterprises are involved in the provision of adult health and/or social care. This accounts for more than £4 billion worth of public sector funding.

Yet there are fears from the VCSE sector that much of the progress that has been made in the last ten years when it comes to their role in delivering health will be overlooked in the restructures; that trusted relationships and progress made in building understanding of the breadth of services that contribute to improving health and well-being will be lost.

Our programmes aim to ensure that this is not the case, and seek to work with the changing environment and the new evolving structures to make certain that the value and role of the VCSE sector is fully understood and able to fully participate in the health and social care economy. 


For more information about any of the health programmes please email Meera Rajan, Programme Manager at Social Enterprise UK -