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In April 2016, Greater Manchester became the first local authority in England to take control of its health and social care budget. One year on, we take a look at the benefits of wide-scale integration.

The devolution deal also delivered a £450million Transformation Fund over five years to support longer term change in a process that heralded a new culture, with health and social care working more closely than ever before.

The first anniversary came as Manchester elected a new mayor in the form of former Health Secretary Andy Burnham and, more recently, faced the challenge of treating, caring and supporting a population affected by the terrorist attack of 22 May at the end of the Ariane Grande concert.

Working together over care plans

GMHSCP, a coalition of 37 NHS organisations and local authorities acknowledges that some initiatives may have worked better than others in these early days, but it is focusing on the positive and remains optimistic about the future.

Associate Lead for Primary & Community Care, Tracey Vell, points to how devolution has helped get a range of professionals 'in the same room to communicate together.
“We have public sector workers next to health care workers and social care next to nursing so that we can agree plans together,”

Decisions taken locally

With clinical commissioning groups and councils working together, devolution of health and social care means that decisions previously taken in Whitehall or by NHS England are now taken locally in Greater Manchester.

Key aspects of the GMHSCP’s Strategic Plan, Taking Charge, lie in helping people 'start well, live well and age well'; ensuring local health and social care services, and hospitals, work better together.

More joined up services are seeing patients and their carers now speaking to fewer organisations about care, and often dealing with one person and one organisation, while 'care navigators' help people find their way around the system and access the services they need.

Dr Vell talks about 'standardisation of care' so that patients in Stockport, for example, receive the same primary care service as those in Oldham or Salford. But the biggest point she makes is about no longer talking about health and social care…and simply talking about ‘care’. More GP appointments A £41m investment has put GPs at the heart of the NHS in Greater Manchester to make more appointments available, often out-of-hours, and see more care taken out of hospitals and placed closer to people’s homes.

To read more about the integrated care in Manchester with regards to diabetes and dementia or increases in engagement and enthusiasm, you can find the rest of the article in the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine

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