Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has confirmed Sir Richard Leese as chair of its new Integrated Care Board ahead of NHS legislation which takes effect from the beginning of April (2022).

Greater Manchester was England’s first integrated care system, with its unique devolution arrangements; and has been instrumental in shaping the design of these new national partnerships to support local health and care needs. Building on strong system leadership and a culture of collaborative working, here the new board will play a key role in a preventative, longer-term approach to wellbeing and set a bold vision for the next five years.

Sir Richard was one of the signatories to the city-region’s health devolution deal with Government in 2015 which meant Greater Manchester took charge of the £6bn spent annually on health and care. He has chaired the Partnership since March 2020 and is currently the portfolio holder for health and care for Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

After 25 years leading Manchester City Council, Sir Richard is stepping down from the role in December. Since its inception, Sir Richard has chaired Manchester’s Health and Wellbeing board, which plans health and social care services for the city; and in the early 2000s, was chair of Manchester, Salford, and Trafford Health Action Zone, which brought together partners to tackle health inequalities.

Previously a teacher and youth worker, Sir Richard is a strong advocate for addressing the wider determinants of health and is resolute that partnership working is key to this and in paving the way for wider public service reform.

Covid response, recovery and the largest vaccination programme in history has dominated Sir Richard’s tenure as chair of the Health and Social Care Partnership so far.

Reflecting on his new appointment, Sir Richard said:

Sir Richard Leese

“I am really pleased to have been confirmed as chair-designate of the Integrated Care Board (ICB) for Greater Manchester and look forward to building on our strong track record of partnership working to deliver for our 2.8 million residents. We have achieved much through voluntary and collaborative working, not least a shared vision; but legal reform will help break down structural barriers to progress and promote true joined up working.

“Health in Greater Manchester could and should be better. Debt, poverty, housing, relationships, and work are often the root causes of poor health in Greater Manchester, and we must work together to tackle these causes of ill-health. Covid tragically exposed just how vulnerable many of our communities in Greater Manchester were to getting the virus and suffering more from it.

“As the country tentatively starts to recover from Covid and our public sector services face unprecedented demand across all areas, we must now use the opportunities these new ways of working present to take a bigger and more active role in addressing inequalities. We will strengthen our working with local communities, including the voluntary sector, making us all partners in shaping services. We will continue to keep our workforce centre stage, supporting them and helping them to work together to provide joined up care in the interests of the public.

“Our vision has always been to improve people’s health and wellbeing – physical and mental, and to make our city region a great place to grow up, get on and get old. Whilst we have made good strides in many areas, such as improved school readiness and reduced mortality from killer diseases, we know that we’ve further to go in other areas and are determined to renew our focus. We are now developing our next ambitious five-year plan and I am confident we can continue to make great progress together.”

Embracing and embedding digital technology will also be key as will a continued focus on prevention at scale – helping people to stay healthy and avoid getting unwell, and effective, early support.

The appointment was made by NHS England and NHS Improvement following an open and robust process; and welcomed by its North West regional director, Dr Amanda Doyle.

Integrated care systems champion joined up working, which is just as much about improving people’s lives – enabling people to live independent, active, and healthy lives – as it is making the system work better for the public and the professionals who serve it so they can work more closely and effectively together

The next step is to recruit the chief officer role for the Integrated Care Board and more information will be announced on this soon.

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