As we know Greater Manchester is the first regional local authority to trial ‘devolution’. The deal was settled last November and building on Greater Manchester’s strategy development. In theory this should allow greater autonomy for the city, meaning we can respond more directly to localised health and wellbeing problems. In a city where both the male and female life expectancy is 3 years below the national average and there is a relatively high proportion of people inactive or on long term sick, devolution should offer some solutions.
New Economy ran a breakfast briefing event which addressed a few of these issues. Warren Heppolette, Strategic Director of the Health and Social Care Reform provided some background information on the reform by presenting a snapshot of Greater Manchester. The MoU Health and Social Care devolution was signed this Feb and broadly covers public health, primary health, mental health and acute care.
In terms of what this will mean for Health and Social Care, Greater Manchester will remain within the NHS and Social Care systems but will be able to make more localised decisions as necessary, at the most appropriate level for the greater benefit of GM residents. Decisions on where money is spent will be informed by the issues and health concerns facing the population of the region rather than the current system of a central, generic fund. Devolved powers open up the ability to act more quickly and accurately for the health and wellbeing of the 2.8 million people living in Greater Manchester. Hopefully this will reduce the need for hospital stays and alleviate some of the pressure currently facing A&E.
Some of the key ambitions of the devolution include:
• Addressing and bridging the gap of health inequalities both within the region and in comparison to national averages
• Integrating physical, mental and social care services and frontline agencies across Manchester
• Focusing on keeping the population healthy so they can get into and stay into secure, well paid work
Following this Dr Ranjit Gill, Accountable Officer at NHS Stockport CCG talked about how this would ideally, drive a more ‘GP Led NHS’ with more direct link between patients and health professionals, leading to less jumping through hoops to improve preventative care, urgent care, planned care and proactive care.
Closer integration of both Health and Social Care along with full devolution to Greater Manchester should enable decisions to be made which more closely relate to the population being served. Part of this will happen as Councillors are enabled to make decisions based on the problems residents in their wards face. With Manchester facing challenges around obesity, mental health, smoking and binge drinking out of proportion to the rest of the country the ability to direct money specifically in these areas will help address health inequalities in the region.