Headlines: February 26th, 2015

Councils in Greater Msnchester are to be given a single budget to manage health and social care across the area.

The £6bn budget will allow Greater Manchester to integrate health and social care and provide a seamless service.

The devolved power agreement is expected to be confirmed in a few days. The effect will be that NHS England will hand spending decisions on regional healthcare to local politicians, clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts. Local leaders will control how budgets are allocated.

The plan will come into force from April 2016.

It is hoped that by integrating health and social care services, the change will ease pressure on hospitals and help to improve home care services for patients who need it.

A shadow Greater Manchester Health and Wellbeing board will be appointed. It would work closely with existing clinical commissioning groups of GPs.

The board is expected to run from April 2015, before control of the budget is handed over a year later.

This is the largest single integration in a wider programme which will see small pooled budgets in all 151 larger local authority areas as part of the government’s Better Care Fund initiative. The total budget allocation will be £5.3b

Commenting on the proposed new partnership for health and social care in Greater Manchester, Richard Humphries, Assistant Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:”The news that Greater Manchester’s local authorities and NHS are close to agreeing a deal with NHS England to establish a new partnership for health and social care across the Manchester region is very significant.

“If implemented effectively, this could be a step towards a big prize – a single, seamless health and social care system delivering integrated care for people in Greater Manchester. It also provides an opportunity for councils and the NHS to work together to improve health and well -being in the region.

“While the ambition is welcome, more details are needed about how the partnership will work in practice and who will be accountable for £6 billion of NHS resources involved in the deal. It will be important to avoid the distraction of further organisational change and to clarify the accountability of the Health Secretary for the NHS as a whole alongside a greater role for local government.

“Manchester has been chosen to test out this new way of working because of the strength of local relationships. It is unlikely that many other areas are yet in a position to follow its lead.”