29.10.19

Sharing care in Greater Manchester – Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)

Phil Swan, chief information officer for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), discusses exciting new collaborations in the region aimed at joining up vital public services and empowering people to live well.

Greater Manchester’s (GM’s) councils, NHS organisations and other public bodies are working together to invest in new technologies and to explore better ways of working to join up data from the many systems across the public sector. This will allow us to use data more effectively to enhance care, improve services and indeed, save lives.

Where are we starting from? Whilst there are many fantastic examples of digital transformation across public services, the reality is that in GM, and across the UK, the complexity of our systems and the lack of integration means we’re doing a disservice to our residents.

You may have experienced this yourself when trying to book a doctor’s appointment, trying to get social care support for an elderly relative or accessing educational support for young children. Our systems and therefore our services simply do not talk to each other. This leads to an over-reliance on paper, duplication of resources and inefficiencies. The time taken by our frontline staff to understand the issues involved with a patient or a person in their care is staggering because of the lack of information sharing.

I was talking with a senior clinician the other day and she estimated that half of her working life is spent chasing up information from across the public sector on the people with dementia she is caring for and the frustration she feels is enormous. As a vastly experienced professional – her time could and should be spent on the things that really matter – the people involved in her care - if only the systems were in place to support her.

So the investment that we’re putting in place will help to address some of these issues. Initially looking at dementia, frailty and early years, integrating services from across the public sector will make a big difference in the care and support we’re able to give by providing the right information, at right time, in the right place.

But we know that the health of our citizens is influenced by much wider determinants such as employment, the air we breathe and the neighbourhoods we live in amongst others.  So why can’t services across the public sector join up and integrate to support this? Could the technology we’re putting in place and testing in dementia, frailty and early years also be used to look at other major issues such as knife crime, supporting victims of domestic abuse or homelessness? We will make this happen.

And our residents agree with us. In a recent study commissioned by ourselves at the GMCA, it was reported that over 63% of residents thought relevant mental health information should be shared with the police to assist them in responding to call-outs and help those who have mental health problems. In this instance, shifting the burden away from crime and the police and into providing the care and support across services is the right thing to do improve the outcomes for our citizens.

It’s a key ambition for GM to be able join up public services and we want to do this differently by driving innovation locally rather than waiting for national initiatives that have proved cumbersome time and time again.

As great as the investment is in technology however, it must start with our citizens, understanding their needs and issues and the gaps in current services that could be helped through this technology – right from birth to end of life. This will help Greater Manchester to be the very best place to grow-up, get on and age well.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Tw: @greatermcr

W: www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

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