Health Impact Assessment in Health, Social Care and Education
Health Impact Assessment offers the opportunity to integrate the promotion of health and wellbeing into a wide range of policy and service delivery areas. HIA also provides a framework for the consideration of health inequalities in service planning and the identification of unintended negative impacts of decisions. In addition, community engagement – or patient and service user participation and coproduction are central to the HIA process. Therefore, HIA has a great deal to offer to the planning and commissioning health services, social care and education.
There are a number of examples of how HIA has been used to inform redesign or piloting of health and social care services in Wales including mental health services, specialist health services and new community therapies. The process has been particularly helpful in engaging the public and patients in service redesign. HIAs have also been completed on community education projects and HIA has been seen as potentially useful in planning the development of new schools. See below for examples of completed HIAs.
NHS Wales Infrastructure Guidance
In 2015 the Welsh Government and NHS Wales published the NHS Wales Infrastructure Investment Guidance. Section 2.5 of the Guidance states that:
“The Welsh Government supports the use of HIA as part of the evidence to justify infrastructure investment proposals”.
Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) has also been found to be helpful for services that want to strengthen or integrate impact on mental wellbeing and for those that want to develop outcomes measures related to mental wellbeing. In addition, it has been integrated into some Equality Impacts Assessments in Wales in order to provide a more in depth understanding of the impacts of health services on specific population groups.
An HIA can be a useful way of getting different departments within an organisation to work together (in some cases for the very first time). Creative suggestions for mitigating for potentially negative health and wellbeing impacts and positive gains can typically emerge in Rapid HIA Workshops where the often barriers between different professional groups and patients can be broken down and enhance joint understanding. An HIA can therefore contribute to open engagement and new ways of thinking and working developed.