Devolution: where are we now?
Commissioning LIVE made its way to Manchester. The all important devolution deal was a hot topic for speakers and the audience.
“Devolution is like quantum physics. If you think you’ve understood it you’re wrong, ” claimed Mike Wild, chief executive, Manchester Alliance for Community Care (Macc) and board member, Manchester Health and Wellbeing board, at Commissioning LIVE Manchester.
The hotly anticipated panel session, Where are we now? The ins and outs of Devo Manc and what this means for national commissioning was an insightful session that created a thought provoking discussion with the audience.
Held on Tuesday 26 November at Manchester Central Convention Complex, the conference was well under way by the time an in-depth devolution conversation began.
Wild’s remark rang true with the other panellists and audience members whom all agreed that discussions are still underway to create the best possible structure for the people of Greater Manchester.
Panellist Warren Heppolette, strategic director health and social care reform, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution, said: “In order for Greater Manchester to achieve its economical potential it had to improve the health of its population. From the day we signed the Memorandum of Understanding it was about the health potential of Greater Manchester.”
Yes, the people of Greater Manchester were understandably the focus but it has raised questions elsewhere. One audience member asked: “Where is devolution going to leave the ‘N’ in NHS?”
Heppolette answered: “When the Memorandum of Understanding was signed it was agreed and understood that Greater Manchester doesn’t separate itself from the principles of the NHS.
“The ‘N’ in NHS does not deliver excellent care across the country, the variation is wild across the UK.”
Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chair, NHS Bolton CCG, response to the question was that “the challenge is to stop thinking about organisations but to look at places and localities”.
The packed session also heard comments from panellist Cllr Sue Murphy, statutory deputy leader of Manchester City Council. Murphy spoke of devolution in terms of the rest of England: “You should have the amount of devolution that is right for your area. You have to have flexibility.”
Wild echoed views of many that “devolution is a good thing. Decision making is being done up the M1”.
All in all, devolution is under way in Greater Manchester; it’s in its infancy and as the panellists pointed out discussions are constantly take place to allow it to take shape. The focus is on the population and long-term benefits. One day it will seem like the norm rather than quantum physics.