Groundbreaking move for NHS cover in Greater Manchester

Our feature writer, Suzanne Danon, reports on a move described as ‘groundbreaking’ - a Greater Manchester board comprising 10 local authorities, 12 Commissioning Groups and 14 NHS providers is set to oversee health and social care in the region and manage a £6bn health and social care budget.

The Government and NHS England confirmed this week they were in discussions with the groups over the plan which will come into place in 2016, and will see local leaders given a greater say in how the considerable budget is allocated. It has been suggested this will lead to a fairer allocation of funds for both health and social care.

“This is a genuine opportunity to enhance health outcomes for the people of Greater Manchester by aligning health and social care and public sector reform,” said Dr Hamish Stedman, chair of Salford Clinical Commissioning Group.

“Treating a person as a whole, rather than by separate conditions, is designed to bring long-term benefits and independence.”

Chancellor George Osborne said the move, which would ultimately hand more control over to Greater Manchester, was all part of a vision to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

“It’s about giving Greater Manchester more control over things run in Greater Manchester,” he said.

“It’s early days, but I think it’s a really exciting development. We’ll be working hard now with Greater Manchester and NHS England on getting the details right so the arrangements work best for patients.”

He added that this plan to bring together the NHS and social care in Manchester to provide better care for patients was exactly what the government wanted to see more of in health care.

But Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said he was ‘worried’ about the proposals fearing it would lead to a further break-up of the NHS.

Mr Burnham told the BBC the solution being proposed had to work everywhere, or be suitable to offer everywhere, otherwise it could lead to a ‘Swiss cheese’ NHS system, where bits of the system are “operating to different rules or have different powers and freedoms”.

Do you work in health and social care? What are your views on this move? It would be great to hear about what's taking place in different areas.

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