Manchester City Council

The Council & democracy Health Scrutiny Committee's Investigations

Our Current Investigations

Latest News

Over the previous months the Committee has continued to look at areas of work that are of importance to the health and wellbeing of all Manchester residents.

At our October 2017 meeting, following concerns raised by residents we had invited representatives from NHS England and Commissioners for the North West to attend our meeting to discuss congenital heart disease services for children and adults in the North West.

The Committee expressed concern over the impact the proposals to relocate specialist services to Liverpool would have on Manchester patients and their families, and sought clarification on how the proposals had been reached.

Members learnt that the changes would only affect a small number of patients who required specialised heart surgery, and that a dedicated surgical unit, staffed by highly qualified specialist surgeons and nurses is to be established at the Liverpool Alder Hey Hospital. Members were told that the decision taken had been based on clinical evidence and patients and their families would be supported financially with any transport costs.

The Committee welcomed the opportunity to question the representatives and expressed reservations about the proposals. We asked that the Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing continues to monitor the implementation of these changes.


18 July 2017 New Psychoactive Substances & Adult Congenital Heart Disease Services

At our July meeting we heard from Dr Rob Ralphs from the Manchester Metropolitan University. Dr Ralphs and his team had undertaken research into the prevalence and use of New Psychoactive Substances, often referred to as ‘legal highs’ and Spice.

The outcome of the research had shown that whilst Spice is often identified as being used by homeless people, as this is often visible in the City, in fact a range of people use this drug.

Dr Ralphs told us that it is difficult to treat Spice users as this drug is very addictive and currently there is no medical alternative to the drug, like there is for heroin, to help users detox.

Another barrier identified by the research Dr Ralphs explained was that Spice users often view Drug Services as not being appropriate for them and would not use them. He told us that users would often incorrectly consider these services as only for ‘traditional’ drug users and that would only offer help such as needle exchanges.

Dr Ralphs told us that the research had shown that awareness training in this new drug is needed for staff who regularly come into contact with Spice users. Dr Ralphs said that this new powerful drug can cause users to display very dramatic and unpredictable behaviour, making it difficult for workers to respond effectively and help them.

The Director of Public Health said that the new provider of drug services in Manchester, an organisation called CGL is very capable of responding to this challenge and that they had a proven track record in other cities across the country of delivering high quality, effective services to help people come off drugs.

We were told that in response to legal highs, a New Psychoactive Substances Task Group, with a particular focus on Spice, had been formed to coordinate and respond to the challenges presented by the use this drug amongst the homeless and offender populations. This Task Group is made up from a variety of agencies working together that included the Council’s Children’s and Adult Service; Public Health; Greater Manchester Police; Drug Treatment Services; Homelessness Services; the Community Safety Team; the Ambulance Service and a range of Voluntary and Community Agencies.

Also at our July meeting we had invited representatives from Central Manchester University Hospital to come to the meeting to discuss the proposal that has been made to move the Adult Congenital Heart Disease service from this hospital site to Liverpool. The members of the Committee were concerned about the proposal and have asked for an update on this at our October meeting. We will also invite NHS England to attend this meeting to discuss these proposal and the impact this will have on patients, their families and carers.   

End of Year Summary 2016/2017

Over the previous 12 months, the Health Scrutiny Committee has continued to examine how the Council and its partners in the NHS deliver health and social care services to improve the health and wellbeing of Manchester residents.

The Committee has continued to monitor the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution which gave the region new powers to take control of all health and social care services for local people and enabled local leaders and clinicians to design services to directly meet the needs of local communities.

This major undertaking includes co-ordinating the health and social care services delivered across Greater Manchester so that services work better together in providing improved care for the individual. This work includes:

  • Improving access to services, for example providing GP and other primary care services seven days a week across the whole of Greater Manchester.
  • Better support for the 600,000 people living with complex long-term conditions.
  • More support for the 25,000 people in the region who suffer from severe mental health illness.
  • A major drive to encourage everyone in the region to take charge of their own health, for example, eating more healthily and stopping smoking.

    As well as helping local people to live longer, healthier lives, the plan will protect the future of services by making more efficient use of limited resources.

The Committee has continued to monitor the development of the three strands of work to deliver an integrated Health and Social Care service, the Local Care Organisation; Single Hospital Service and Single Commissioning Function.

Over the years the Health Scrutiny Committee has advocated for improved Mental Health Services within the city. At our March meeting the Committee was pleased to welcome Bev Humphrey, Chief Executive of the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) to the meeting. Following a tender exercise GMMH are responsible for the delivery of Mental Health services from January 2017.The Committee heard of the areas of work GMMH are developing around prevention, access, sustainability and integration and how this work will complement the Local Care Organisation. The Committee will continue to monitor the progress of this area as this will have a major impact on a significant number of Manchester residents.

19 July 2016 - Mental Health service retractions 

The Committee had considered at their October and November 2015 meetings the proposals of the local Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust to retract a number of services.

Following these discussions the Committee arranged a seminar to which a number of service users and providers of mental health services from across the city were invited, along with representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Group and the City Council. The group shared their knowledge and experience and made a number of suggestions as to how mental health services could be best delivered and improved.

Further information on the seminar held 19 January 2016 can be found here

At the July meeting the Committee invited a representative from the local Clinical Commissioning Group, the statutory NHS organisation responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for the local area to give an update on mental health services.

The Committee were informed that a decision had been taken not to retract any services and services will continue to be delivered pending the appointment of a new mental health provider for the city. The details of the new provider are due to be announced in August and that a consultation exercise will then be undertaken with service users, their families and carers, led by Commissioners and with the full participation of the new provider to help shape and inform the new service.


Members supported the decision not to change any of services currently provided until the new provider and delivery model is agreed. The Committee will be considering a report at their September meeting that will provide an update on how this work is progressing and will allow the Committee the opportunity to comment on the proposed consultation exercise.


Summary of the Year 2015/2016

Over the previous 12 months the Health Scrutiny Committee has continued to examine how the Council and its partners in the NHS deliver health and social care services to improve the health and wellbeing of Manchester residents.

Consideration has been given to a wide range of topics ranging from services for Carers, Mental Health and Wellbeing, the continued development of an integrated Health and Social Care service, Urgent Care, access to GPs and the new Drug and Alcohol Service.

In addition to considering reports at Committee meetings, members undertook a number of visits to the Accident and Emergency Departments at the three Manchester hospital sites. The purpose of these visits was to witness the pressures experienced at these sites and to speak with, and hear from clinicians delivering this important service.

Throughout the year members of the Committee had established a subgroup to undertake a detailed review of services for Learning Disabled citizens and their Carers. The members of this group held a total of six meetings. As part of their review members of the group visited a number of day centres and community facilities to meet with and hear the views of Learning Disabled citizens and their carers. The findings and recommendations of this review were submitted to the February 2016 meeting of the Committee and can be accessed via the following link:

Throughout the year the Committee considered a number of reports that discussed Mental Health Services in Manchester and recognised that this was an important issue that affects a significant number of residents. To support the broader discussions around the future delivery of Mental Health Services members agreed to host a seminar in January 2016. An invitation was sent to Councillors, a range of Voluntary and Community Sector groups, service users and user groups as well as the local NHS. The seminar was well attended and was an opportunity to discuss and hear different views on how improvements to mental health services can be made. The recommendations from this meeting, which included the promotion of the advocacy service and recognition of the important role of carers, were submitted to the January meeting of the main Committee where they were approved.

At the February 2016 meeting the Committee agreed to establish a subgroup to examine Home Care Provision and its transition to a community based support model. It was proposed that this group will commence their investigation in the next municipal year and report the findings of their investigation to the main Committee.

19 January 2016 - Discussing the future of mental health services in the city

The Health Scrutiny Committee had considered a number of reports regarding Mental Health Services and decided to dedicate a separate meeting to discuss the future of mental health services in the city.  The purpose was to discuss how improvements to mental health services could be made, particularly in light of the Mental Health Improvement Programme, the new service specification and developments at a Greater Manchester level. Invitations were sent to a range of Voluntary and Community Sector organisations, service users and elected members and the session was attended by the NHS (Clinical Commissioning Group), senior officers from the council and clinicians.

Members received presentations setting out the current Manchester context and providing an overview of the future of mental health, social care and wellbeing services in Manchester .  The session then heard in turn the views and experiences of all of the guests who were invited to suggest what improvement could be included in the new mental health service specification for Manchester . 26 areas of improvement were identified, ranging from having Mental Health practitioners working in GP surgeries and Accident and Emergency Departments; improved partnership working with the Voluntary and Community Sector; service users and carers being involved in the design of services and recognising the importance of peer support. An overview of this session and copies of the presentations delivered can be viewed at –

The NHS representative welcomed the opportunity to hear and share the views of the service users and organisations present. He said that the conversation and areas of improvement identified will help inform the new service specification. The recommendations that arose from this session were received and formally endorsed by the Health Scrutiny Committee at their meeting of 28 January 2016.

29 October 2015 and 26 November 2015 - Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust

At the October and November meetings the Committee considered two reports from the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. The Manchester Mental Health and Social Care NHS Trust provide mental health services and substance misuse services to adults and older people across the city of Manchester .

The first report considered at the October meeting dealt with the financial position of the trust and the proposed retraction of services to deliver a balanced budget. In recognition of the of strength of feeling about this issue the Committee had invited the Chief Executive of the Trust, Commissioners, Trade Union representatives and service users to speak at the meeting.

The Committee heard of the services identified by the Trust that they wished to withdraw to make the required financial savings. However even with these there would still be a £2.3 million gap in the budget.

Both the union and service user representatives said that any removal of services that had been proposed by the Trust would have a very negative impact on people who rely on these services.

The second report considered at the November meeting gave the Trusts response to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection report that was published in October 2015. The CQC are the independent regulator of health and social care in England , and following their inspection they had awarded the Trust a rating of ‘Requires Improvement’.

The Chief Executive of the Trust attended the meeting and explained that following the inspection the Trust had developed an Action Plan to address all of the points raised during the inspection. Both the Trust and the members said that the commitment and dedication of the staff to deliver the highest levels of care for service users was recognised in the report and they expressed their thanks to the staff working at the Trust.

The members decided that a seminar would be held in January 2016 to discuss the proposals for the future delivery of Mental Health Services in Manchester .

23 July 2015 - Greater Manchester Health Devolution

At the July meeting the Committee also discussed the decision taken on the 15 July as part of the Healthier Together consultation. The Committee said that they regretted the decision reached not to allocate Wythenshawe Hospital as a specialist site. The members said that they had expressed their views and the reasons as to why they believed it should be a specialist hospital and were very disappointed by the outcome.

Also at the July meeting the Committee discussed the Devolution deal agreed for Manchester and the implications of this on the provision of Health and Social Care services for residents.

The members welcomed the Devolution agreement that will enable the region to plan and deliver services in response to local need and ambitions. They also agreed that it is an opportunity to better design and deliver Health and Social Care services in a joined up way to improve the health of Manchester residents. The Committee noted that the Health Devolution settlement is still in the early stages with a lot of the detail to be agreed but noted that a lot of work is ongoing. The Committee agreed that this is a subject that they will return to regularly to receive updates.

Get Involved

To find out more information have a look at our full work programme.  This includes what topics we will be looking at, what specific issues we will be considering and who we will be hearing from.  Please bear in mind that the programme is continually updated, and so dates and agenda items may change from those listed in the programme.

If there's an issue you want to contribute to, let us know.  You can either send a written contribution to or you can attend a meeting and ask the Chair if you can speak.  You can also suggest a topic for us to look into by filling in our 'suggestions form.' 

If you want to speak to somebody about contributing to the committee, please call our scrutiny support officer on 0161 234 3011 or e mail

The Role of the Committee

Councillor john farrell

Councillor John Farrell

Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee

"As members of the Health Scrutiny Committee, we are dedicated to looking at how the Council and its partners in the NHS deliver health and social care services to improve the health and wellbeing of Manchester residents. We take a broad view of the health and social care services that are commissioned and provided by both the NHS and the Council so that we can make recommendations about how they can improve these services for you.

Our areas of interest include social care for adults, health inequalities, health services, the protection and safeguarding of adults in receipt of health and social care services, mental health and wellbeing, experiences and outcomes for patients, public health and healthy living.

Through this page you'll be able to keep in touch with what we've been doing, find out what we'll be investigating over the next few months and how you can get involved."

 Find out more

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?