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01.04.16

Greater Manchester takes control of £6bn health and social care funding

Greater Manchester has become the first region in the country to take control of its combined health and social care budgets.

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 NHE 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.

Unprecedented and unrivalled progress

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.

NHS England also stated that it wants future health devolution deals to take about 18 months from expression of interest to full implementation, along the same lines of Greater Manchester. However, during the controversial passage of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, the House of Lord said that devolving NHS powers to Greater Manchester was in danger of becoming “a bureaucratic mess”.

Over the course of the last year it was estimated that the cost of devolving the £6bn in health spending to local leaders was around £2m.

Doing things differently

Ann Barnes, CEO of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said that the priority in Greater Manchester has always been to improve services and outcomes for patients. “That's never changed,” she added. “But devolution will allow us to do things differently and faster.”

Harry Quilter-Pinner, researcher in health and wellbeing at IPPR, noted that the handover of powers from Westminster to Greater Manchester Combined Authority 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. 

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