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01.04.16

Manchester health devolution should be a blueprint for future deals – Lord Porter

The £6bn devolution of health funding to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is a ‘significant step’ in joining up social care and health, and will hopefully pave the way for future deals, the chairman of the LGA has stated.

Lord Porter (pictured) described the move as a “landmark transfer of responsibility” and will act as a blueprint for how to turn future deals into achievable transformation plans.

“As well as health budgets, Whitehall needs to put its faith in devolving the fullest range of powers to all local areas, with no policy areas out of bounds and with them free to choose the best governance to suit their local needs,” said Lord Porter.

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From today (1 April) the much reported £6bn devolution deal will see local leaders and clinicians working together, for the first time, to tailor budgets and priorities to improve the health and wellbeing of the region’s 2.8 million residents.

As PSE reported last year, this trailblazing move sees NHS England, 12 NHS CCGs, 15 NHS providers and 10 local authorities agree a framework for health and social care – with plans for joint decision-making on integrated care to support physical, mental and social wellbeing.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Strategic Partnership Board, said: “I have seen first-hand the progress that has been made since the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in February 2015, which took place between all the major public sector bodies of the region and Whitehall.

“Establishing the new system has been the crux of our focus for the past 12 months and we have made unprecedented and unrivalled progress in this regard. Quite frankly, the progress we have made has been revolutionary for the region and we are in a great place ahead of a new era for health and social care services.”

Greater Manchester is to receive £450m in extra transformation funding to support developments to the system, outlined in December when the partners revealed a five-year vision for services across the region. This includes plans to create a transformed health and social care system; delivering a financially balanced system; and ensuring that all changes are done safely. These priorities are underway and will be shaped in the coming weeks and months as health officials respond to what local people want.

Back in October, the first ever public health leader was appointed in Greater Manchester as part the devolution deal. Since then, Wendy Meredith, the director of population health transformation, has been working with senior councillors and healthcare bosses to oversee and develop new approaches to the region’s health and social care.

Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO at Manchester City Council, said: “The progress has been made possible by the unprecedented partnership working shown by the 37 organisations involved.

“That unity has been inspirational as we prepare for full devolution – and new ways of working that see more integration between health and social care and improving outcomes for patients across Greater Manchester.”

PSE reported in February that the first-ever mayor of Greater Manchester will be elected on 4 May 2017. The mayor, who will chair the GMCA, will be tasked with providing the local accountability needed with new powers across government and health spheres being devolved.

Harry Quilter-Pinner, researcher in health and wellbeing at IPPR, noted that the handover of powers from Westminster to GMCA is confirmation that devolution is an idea that is finally becoming reality.

“While there are undoubtedly risks involved in ‘devo-health’, detractors are overstating their case and failing to see the opportunities that it provides,” he said.

Back in December, PSE’s sister title NHE reported that London’s CCGs and councils signed a health devolution deal with the government that will see five pilots launched across the capital focusing on integration, accountable care organisations and asset collaboration. 

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