Manchester City Council

GM decides for GM

I've been a bit dilatory with blogging of late. As a one-finger typist I'm always tempted to put it off but last week's events, particularly around health, have motivated me to pull my finger out, if only to correct a lot of the miscommunication especially from a normally reliable BBC. Firstly the Health devolution proposals shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. Last year's " DevoManc " contained with in it that the Combined Authority and the Clinical Commissioning Groups ( CCGs ) would work on a business plan for integrating health and social care.

Admittedly we have perhaps made faster progress than might have been anticipated but nothing wrong with that.

The media have made much of £6b of NHS funding being devolved to Greater Manchester ( GM ). This is true but ignores that 75% of this money is already devolved to GM with local authorities ( LAs ) commissioning public health and CCGs commissioning most community and acute health care. The big change is that in future virtually all specialist services and all GP services will also be commissioned in GM through a partnership between CCGs and LAs. This by the way does not fall within the remit of the elected Mayor, as social care and public health responsibilities lie with each individual local authority and the devolution agreement was quite explicit that it did not centralise any of the existing council powers. Similarly, each of the CCGs retain all their existing powers and budgets. The new partnership will not be free to do whatever it wants. Last week's agreement with NHS ( England ) was made within the context of their existing mandate. In key areas, they will still determine the what, the local partners will determine the how. The NHS in Greater Manchester will remain the NHS and in particular NHS employees will remain NHS employees, Council employees will remain Council employees.

It seems to me intuitively right that decisions about GM should be made in GM. But there has to be more than that. These proposals have to deliver a better deal for GM people. The process of integration is already under way and these proposals will allow us to go further, faster. They will not resolve the underfunding of health and social care - there is still an argument to be had there - but they will allow us to make better use of the money we have got. The differences this could make? Reducing unnecessary admissions to hospital. Quicker discharge with better care packages. Relieving the pressure on A & E. Supporting tens of thousands of people not working because of physical or mental health problems back into work. Big opportunities that could transform lives, transform our city-region. It's an opportunity too big to miss.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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