Social Value & Health

Current health sector thinking on social value

Nonetheless, there is extremely interesting thinking on social value emerging from the health sector — sufficient to give a very good idea about how and in what direction social value is likely to be taken.

Here are some specific examples of that thinking.

Using Marmot to furnish key principles for social value

A recent guidance note Creating Social Value, by the NHS Sustainable Development Unit (Jan 2015), advocates that social value should be aligned with the six key Marmot policy objectives (contained in the Marmot Review). These are:

» Giving every child the best start in life.

» Enabling all children young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives.

» Creating fair employment and good work for all.

» Ensuring healthy standard of living for all.

» Creating and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities.

» Strengthening the role and impact of ill health prevention.

Since that time, the Sustainable Development Unit has also issued Creating Social Value – Implementation Note. Personally, we found the Implementation Note rather opaque, with little practical guidance about what social value in health and social care commissioning specifications could or should actually look like.

There is a useful reference on p.11, however, which adapts an item from the Halton Social Value Toolkit. This reinforces the messages about social value in health being primarily about addressing health inequalities and the social determinants of health, and using the Marmot Principles as a framework for social value.

Moreover, the diagram reproduced is useful because it does at least offer some suggestions about the “community engagement and co-production” measures that these activities might translate into:

From: Creating Social Value - Implementation Note (NHS Sustainable Devt Unit) p.11 (click to enlarge)

From: Creating Social Value – Implementation Note (NHS Sustainable Devt Unit) p.11 (click to enlarge)

Perhaps more useful are two documents we only recently discovered published by NHS England/UCL Institute of Health Equity. These are Social Value Briefing: Using the Social Value Act to reduce health inequalities in England through action on the social determinants of health — Summary and Full Report (both are available at the same link, above).

In our view, this document offers better practical examples of the kinds of social value that can be sought at the local level in line with “the key social determinants of health areas…as recommended in the Marmot Review” (see especially pp. 5-8 in the Summary document), as can be seen in the PDF we have adapted for easier viewing.


This alignment with the Marmot principles is certainly evident in the single most developed CCG social value strategy we have so far found, “Commissioning for Social Value: Social Value Strategy and Action Plan 2014” published by Liverpool CCG (LCCG).

The LCCG document makes explicit reference to social value as a means of bringing together achievement of LCCG’s objectives and priorities, supporting the wider city health strategy (Healthy Liverpool), improving health outcomes, and meeting legislative requirements, as can be seen in the graphic extracted below:

Graphic taken from: Liverpool CCG 'Commissioning forSocial Value' (May 2014)

Graphic taken from: Liverpool CCG ‘Commissioning forSocial Value’ (May 2014)

Research by the UCL Institute for Health Equity suggests that health bodies in Salford and Blackburn with Darwen have also made substantial progress.