Devolution of the health and social care budget is perhaps one the biggest shake-ups the NHS has ever seen. However, the hype surrounding Greater Manchester’s control over a £6 billion health and social care budget seems to have died down since April 2015 when the announcement was first made. When I first covered it in The Commissioning Review article Method or madness? most leading healthcare professionals from Greater Manchester (GM) were happy to talk. After all, it was just the beginning and the focus was on the clinical commissioning groups, local authorities and NHS providers uniting. I must admit getting to the very core of what has happened since then has been difficult. Press teams and communication officers have prevented the people in the know from speaking. It’s not surprising, living up to the expectations of this mammoth task is no mean feet. But when you get hold of the right people the picture begins to unfold. At first, Tracey Vell, chief executive of Manchester Local Medical Committee (LMC), felt that the LMCs weren’t included. Since then talks have included a wider range of groups. So far it seems that it is all about strategy, and implementation has yet to happen. Lawrie Jones reported on any progression since last year in Great expectations. GM has set some high bars to reach:
  • Seven-day access to primary care.
  • Seeing 6, 000 fewer people with cancer.
  • Increasing support for 25, 000 people with mental health issues.
  • Each locality has drawn up a five-year plan that has been developed and agreed between commissioners and providers.
At the Commissioning LIVE Manchester conference held last November, I wasn’t surprised to see a packed room at a panel discussion on devolution. The speakers were clear to point out that it was all about talking before anything could be implemented but one thing was clear, they were happy that decision-making is no longer Londoncentric.