Leaders within Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) have added their resounding backing to the region’s plans for the start of devolution of health and social care on Wednesday (April 1).
At a meeting last night, members of the GMCA gave their support to the recent move which saw NHS England, 12 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and 15 NHS providers and 10 local authorities agree to a framework for health and social care – with plans for joint decision-making on integrated care to support physical, mental and social wellbeing.
The Memorandum of Understanding outlines the start of a process, from Weds (April 1), which puts local people in the driving seat for deciding on health care services to suit Greater Manchester. This agreement, which does not require any reorganisation of the NHS or its principles, provides the foundations until full devolution of health and care services by April 2016.
During the GMCA meeting the region’s leaders discussed the benefits and potential of integrated care – where health and care services are combined for a more holistic approach to treating patients. They also discussed how the devolution move places more focus on preventative care by bringing CCGs, local authorities, NHS providers and national agencies together, without any restructuring, or changes to existing statutory responsibilities.
Lord Peter Smith, chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: "We are on the brink of a hugely significant moment as local decision-making begins to enable us to take the decisions in Greater Manchester which will help us make fundamental improvements to health and care for the area's people. This will mean decisions are taken right here about services which were previously decided nationally or regionally. It will also mean the end of artificial barriers between hospital-based and neighbourhood-based care, putting people at the heart of a more integrated system.
"A greater emphasis on early help and support will help prevent existing illnesses getting worse and empower people in Greater Manchester to take control over their health.
"This is not about another layer of government but rather about existing organisations working together better in partnership in a way which respond to the needs of the people who live here. This is a great opportunity and a first in England. A lot of work has gone into reaching this point. We are now determined to rise to the challenge of delivering an improved service for Greater Manchester and backing a healthier population."
Last Friday (20 March) saw the inaugural meeting of the new Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution Board, where terms of reference were agreed for the board. Key work streams were identified on early improvements to care; the support of devolution responsibilities and resources from NHS England to Greater Manchester; and ensuring the Greater Manchester establishes strong on-going governance for the work undertaken together.