The health secretary has hinted that he would welcome the inclusion of schools among those represented on health and wellbeing boards.

Andrew Lansley was speaking last week at a meeting in the Commons on public health intervention at an early age. He highlighted integrated strategies and joint commissioning for children and older people when asked how boards could focus on early intervention.

“One of the issues they [the boards] are working through is what does this mean in terms of bringing schools together in health and wellbeing boards,” he said.

“Building that relationship with academies and free schools at the same time as building a stronger relationship with public health is a key priority.”

Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said it was “really encouraging” to hear about the potential for schools to “engage with health and wellbeing boards”.

Mr Lansley also highlighted the importance of health visitors in early intervention, and called on clinical commissioning groups to use their
expertise.

He said: “I’m hoping CCGs will look to the health visitor team in their area as being a source of leadership for building a children’s health outcomes framework.”

In addition, he described how Public Health England should have strong links with local bodies through directors of public health. He said: “What is most important is not the structures, it’s the relationships.

“I’m hoping that directors of public health as the key interface ….have a strong relationship with the national organisation at the same time they have a leading role with their local authority.”

He added that he also wanted to see each of the regional hubs of the NHS Commissioning Board “have a relationship with their commissioning groups directly and have a relationship with local authorities”.

“The health and wellbeing board should see the representative of the NHS Commissioning Board,” he said.

The event was organised by Graham Allen, Labour MP for North Nottingham, who plans to launch an Early Intervention Foundation.