Local authorities will be required by law to create health and wellbeing boards, the government has announced.

Ministers had previously planned to make it statutory for local authorities to oversee the strategic co-ordination of commissioning across NHS, social care and public health services.

But they did not stipulate a “prescribed form” on how this should be done.

However, following a “near unanimous” response from consultees to the health white paper, the government has decided to make it compulsory for all upper tier local authorities to create a health and wellbeing board to carry out the function.

Boards must be made up of at least one elected representative, the director of children’s services, director of public health and a representative from the local branch of health watch.

Commissioning consortia will be required to send a representative, although if there are a number of consortia in an area they will be able to nominate a “lead consortium” to attend on their behalf.

The boards may also choose to invite participation from relevant professionals, community groups and the voluntary sector.

As well as scrutinising commissioning arrangements, the boards will be required to lead on the joint strategic needs assessment and develop a health and wellbeing strategy. They have also been handed responsibility for the pharmaceutical needs assessment.

However, the government said it “does not anticipate” any strategic health authority or primary care trust staff being transferred to administer the boards.