Social services directors have welcomed the government’s decision that there will be a statutory duty on local authorities to create health and wellbeing boards.

They have also welcomed that commissioning consortia, directors of public health and children’s services, and local HealthWatch will all have to participate in the creation of the boards.

The government yesterday published its response to the health white paper consultation in a document titled Liberating the NHS: Legislative Framework and Next Steps.

Responding to the document, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Richard Jones said the government had struck an “effective balance between prescription and flexibility” in its design of the health and wellbeing boards, which could become a “key forum” for public accountability of health and other public services.

Mr Jones also welcomed the new legal obligation for all commissioners to take account of Joint Strategic Needs Assessments when making commissioning decisions.

“The watchword for ADASS for many years now has been integration, and the purposeful steps to closer integration between health and social care revealed in this paper, and reinforced by some of the financial measures set out recently, are highly encouraging,” he said.

“The real change needed now, though, is a shift in our approach to local leadership that recognises that collaboration is the key to making positive changes for all our citizens and their communities,” he added.