THE body tasked with improving health and wellbeing in Oxfordshire will be given more ‘clout’ in a major restructuring.

The approved proposals will see a change in membership on the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board aiming to bring together decision makers from local councils, the area’s health providers and commissioners.

The change will aim to make the HAWB a ‘doing board’ rather than a ‘monitoring board’, according to Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for health, Hilary Hibbert-Biles.

The move follows a scathing review of the area’s health services by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year, which slammed the lack of joined-up working between health bodies in the county.

In its system-wide review, the health watchdog also criticised the HAWB by saying it did not have a ‘clear role’ in supporting the joined-up delivery of services.

The new board will be supported by five sub-groups which will focus on specific areas such as children’s health and adults with support and care needs, while a referencing group made up of members from the voluntary sector and patient group representatives will meet twice a year to discuss key issues.

The latter will also be able to recommend topics for ‘deep dive’ investigations.

However, critics say the proposals risked ‘fragmenting’ the system further.

Speaking at the HAWB meeting on Thursday, Liz Peretz of Keep Our NHS Public said: “The large board proposed, with many staff at different levels in their own organisations, looks inclusive, but cannot provide the necessary grip.”

She added: “As for the proposed subgroups – for children, adults, and so on – delegated subgroups working on their own will not produce the necessary full joined-up plans.”

Others said the proposals did not offer sufficient detail on how health and wellbeing will actually be improved in Oxfordshire.

Oxford city councillor Marie Tidball said last week: “I have some concerns this could be a missed opportunity.

“I was really impressed with the process that was gone through but feel the content of this paper does not reflect the detailed input that many people made.”

However, director of public health on Oxfordshire County Council Jonathan McWilliam said the proposals were merely the ‘skeleton’, with the flesh needing to be added once the new, larger board had been formed.

He added: “It doesn’t look like much but it’s radically different to anything else we have ever had in this county.”

The approved proposals will go before the full meeting of the county council today.