'Devolution will address fragmentation,' delegates hear

Ian Williamson

The plans for devolved health and social care in Greater Manchester and a passionate plea for it to be replicated across the country, were heard by delegates this evening (4 June) at the NHS Confederation Annual Conference and Exhibition.

Greater Manchester’s plan to integrate its health and social care services - and take control of a £6bn budget – ultimately aims to ensure the ‘greatest and fastest possible improvement to the health and wellbeing of the Greater Manchester population.’

Giving their own perspectives on why devolution is a necessary means to integrated health and social care, as well as an end in itself, the key speakers were:

Dr Steve Kell, Chair, NHS Bassetlaw CCG and NHS Clinical Commissioners
Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Greater Manchester Council 
Ian Williamson, Interim Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution
Philip Blond, Director, ResPublica.

'Imperative for change'

Sir Richard Leese began by stating that ‘the system isn’t working and that’s an imperative for change.’ 

Health and social care alone cannot tackle health inequalities, said Sir Richard, and the majority of health outcomes affecting patients are related to socio-economic factors. 

Citing the Working Well programme in Manchester, which helps people on incapacity benefits to get into work, Sir Richard said health has to be part of the solution, with health and social care integrated as part of the region’s wider public service agenda. 

'Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity'

Ian Williamson stated devolution is about integrating planning and delivery to drive up outcomes and drive out inefficiencies. 

Removing ‘restrictive sector boundaries’ means progress can be made ‘like never before’, and statutory bodies can deliver their duties in a more resilient way.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our people and our place and we won’t let it go”, said Mr Williamson. 

'Crisis in this country'

Showing his support for devolution in Greater Manchester, and for devolution on the whole, Philip Blond outlined his views on the ‘crisis in this country’ that he feels can only be addressed through devolution.

Siloed services, large costs and conflicting performance indicators have led to ‘rampant inequality’ and a fragmented state, parts of which are unable to address the problems. 

The solution, said Mr Blond, is “to redesign the state and reunify from the bottom up, taking a fragmented service and creating a devolved area with a clear accountability that can put it back together again.” 

He called for a shift in resources to the causes not effects by creating a system integrated with other public services. 

He ended the session by posing the question: ‘How can we do something similar to Manchester?’ and calling for conditions for integration to be created elsewhere.

“Without that,” claimed Mr Blond, “we can’t solve the health and social care crisis in this country.” 

Watch this session again.

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