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Joint strategic needs assessment

Practical Commissioning’s Jargon Buster explains the meaning of the term ‘Joint strategic needs assessment’.

Since 1 April 2008, local authorities and PCTs have been under a statutory duty to produce a joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA). This will inform the local area agreement and the sustainable communities strategy.

The operating framework for the NHS in England 2008/9 referred to the importance of JSNAs in informing PCT operational plans and they underpin a number of the world-class commissioning competencies.

A JSNA essentially paints a picture of the health needs of a local area in light of existing services. It is a means of identifying groups whose needs are not being met and who are experiencing poor outcomes.

Although the Department of Health has made recommendations for a core dataset (the inputs) for a JSNA, the precise processes and outputs remain a matter for considerable local flexibility.

Many local authority areas now have joint commissioning groups with partners from health and social care looking to improve access to services for vulnerable groups such as older people with health and social care needs, people with disabilities or long-term health conditions, and children and families.

PBC consortiums should be monitoring indicative budgets to identify trends and opportunities for joint working to improve health outcomes and look into joint commissioning opportunities.