Healthy places and communities: a 2020–25 strategic priority

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Health and wellbeing are profoundly shaped by what happens in places and communities and by how the services operating in a place interconnect. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a clear illustration of the importance of close partnership-working in local places between health and care organisations, local government and others, and has also underlined the vital role played by communities and the voluntary and community sector in supporting health and wellbeing.

What do we want to achieve?

The purpose of our work on healthier places and communities is to support effective place-based working that leads to improved health and wellbeing. Place-based working means working together to ensure local people benefit from approaches that draw on the full range of resources available in a place – including public services, voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations, and the strengths and assets of communities themselves.

The programme will work to achieve change including:

  • communities having more power to drive improvements in the health and care outcomes that matter most to them
  • better partnership-working and alignment between local authorities, the NHS and the voluntary and community sector – allowing local needs to be met in a more co-ordinated way
  • national policies, regulatory structures and funding flows designed in a way that reinforces effective place-based working.

What will the programme focus on?

In 2022, we will work to:

  • support local leaders to develop effective place-based partnerships, integrated care systems and primary care networks
  • enable successful implementation of the reforms introduced by the 2022 Health and Care Act, including promoting collaborative leadership
  • ensure that local government, VCSE organisations and other partners are a core part of integrated care systems
  • help health and care organisations become better equipped to work with communities and learn from community insights.

Resources and key projects

Catch up with some of the programme's reports, projects and resources.


Integrated care systems explained

This explainer looks at what integrated care systems are intended to achieve and how they are changing.


Communities and health

This piece gives an overview of the different approaches to working with communities for health. 


Leadership for population health

A leadership programme designed to support you to work strategically with partners from across the health and care system to improve the health of your local population.

A group of people standing together to represent community

Understanding integration

A practical resource for ICS leaders and others on how to listen to and learn from people and communities.


Our work on integrated care

See all of our work on joined-up health and care services in England.


Lessons from the Wigan Deal

This project examined the community-centred approach to health and care developed in Wigan, and what others might learn from it.

Contact us to find out more about this work


Chris Naylor

Programme lead, Healthy places and communities