The Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) are currently very busy preparing for the introduction of the Welsh Government HIA statutory regulations, which follow on from the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017. In that it states that, “The Act places a duty on the Welsh Ministers to make regulations which require public bodies to carry out Health Impact Assessments in specified circumstances”. The HIA section of the Act hasn’t come into force yet, but it will be undergoing a consultation period, in early 2024 with an aim for the HIA Regulations to be live at a time to be specified after the consultation. This has provided some time for WHIASU to prepare our services and resources in order to work with Welsh Government and public bodies on the implementation of the Regulations.

The team are working hard to ensure that we will be able to support public bodies in their new duty to carry out HIAs by doing the following:

  • Revising our online and in person training courses to ensure that colleagues have variety, easy access and an enjoyable learning experience in HIA.
  • Transferring our existing e-Learning modules into a more accessible and user-friendly platform, using Articulate 360.
  • Carrying out a survey with key stakeholders across public bodies to provide a picture of HIA experience, skills and knowledge in Wales.
  • WHIASU are undertaking interviews with stakeholders to discuss their and their organisations experience and perspectives towards HIA.
  • We are making improvements to the WHIASU website, so that it can act as an informative and user-friendly Hub for WHIASU and HIA related content.
  • We are in the process of writing new guidance for the practice of HIA in Wales – both under the regulations and for those who want to carry them out voluntarily.

The Unit are updating and modernising our online training packages to ensure that users can get the most out of their Impact Assessment related learning. Ways of working have evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such online training has become the norm. To enable WHIASU to continue to evolve and improve our services, we are investing in new software to be able to create our own e-Learning packages using Articulate 360. By moving our training courses to Articulate, it will give our users a more modern learning experience, through using immersive and interactive learning tools on the platform, that will take our e-Learning up another level. In person training will still be carried out when capacity allows as the value of face-to-face training is hugely beneficial as it gives an element of connection, along with innovative discussions and conversations.

A survey will be undertaken, which will be sent to key stakeholders across public bodies in Wales to inform WHIASU’s service development and approach to capacity building, to ensure the continuing high-quality application of HIA in Wales. The survey aims to provide an understanding of individuals and organisations levels of HIA experience, skills and knowledge in Wales. It will also try to understand the current and potential barriers to using HIA, along with if training would be useful for individuals and/or organisations to be able to better carry out and understand the reasons and benefits of HIAs. The survey will be sent to key stakeholders in early 2024, to further prepare the Unit for the introduction of the HIA Regulations.

WHIASU are also undertaking stakeholder interviews, which will allow us to gain insight into individuals and organisation’s experiences and perspectives of HIA, along with any perceived benefits, barriers, and their organisation’s level of awareness of HIA. It will be very beneficial for the Unit, in terms of getting key stakeholders’ thoughts and opinions on HIA, it could help in steering our response to the HIA Regulations, and what individuals and organisation’s need and want from us to be able to support them in their own responses. It can also provide a useful evidence base for us to advocate for the use of HIA, with stakeholders from a wide range of organisations taking part in the survey and showing the benefits that it can bring. If you would like to be interviewed, you can contact me at [email protected].

Improvements have been made and are continually being made to the WHIASU website. This has included improving the navigation on the website to ensure that key information is easily accessible for people visiting the website, and they have a user-friendly experience. The Unit have improved and updated the content on the site so that users have accurate and up to date information, while ensuring that the website is being regularly monitored and updated with news of what WHIASU are doing so that key stakeholders are kept in the loop. WHIASU are undertaking a website users survey, to gain a better understanding of user’s experiences and opinions, if there is any content stakeholders feel is missing, or just generally what can be improved about the website so that we are continuously improving our services and user experience.

All of these actions mean that WHIASU are carrying out a lot of preparation and a wide variety of work to be able to be some way to be adequately prepared for the introduction of the HIA Regulations. They will hopefully be positively received, and allow for HIA to be used more widely, to positively impact health and wellbeing across the Welsh population and reduce inequalities, and to continue to be used on a voluntary basis by stakeholders across the country to inform their policies, projects and programmes.

We hope that this has been helpful to inform the Unit’s current work regarding the HIA Regulations, but if you have any questions that have come from this post, then please feel free to contact a member of the team at [email protected].

Michael Fletcher

Public Health Practitioner (Policy and Impact Assessment)

15th December 2023