What a momentous week it has been for Greater Manchester.

Days after we released details of how 38 organisations are going to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of 2.8 million people, the region’s media joined forces to collectively demand a fair devolution deal for Greater Manchester.

Partnership working is one of the primary principles of devolution so it was not only hugely uplifting to see influential titles such as the MEN, Bolton News, Oldham Chronicle and Wigan Evening Post combine, it was also very significant. Local support for local control of the £6 billion health and social care budget is integral if we are to successfully improve the region’s health outcomes.

Clearly, journalists will continue to scrutinise the process of devolution and the decisions we make and rightly so – we are more accountable to press scrutiny now than ever – but it’s heartening to have a combined stance in asking for the best for Greater Manchester.

The details of what a devolved health and social care system will look like when it comes into full force in April 2016 are still being worked through. This is where we are focussing our efforts right now having worked hard to date to develop a system for governance, which allows us to be fully accountable for our decisions but also gives us the freedom to make changes. With so many stakeholders and interested parties this is no mean feat – and nor should it be – which is why last week’s partnership announcement was so important.

The details of the new decision-making structure – with the creation of a new strategic board – may not attract front page headlines, but it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to map out the future decision making around health and social care in Greater Manchester.

The plans have been developed from February’s historic health and social care devolution announcement – and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the region’s 10 local authorities, 12 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and 15 NHS providers. Such a collective is unprecedented in healthcare history and is therefore something we as residents of Greater Manchester should be hugely proud of.

The media’s call for a fair devolution deal came on the day we were presenting our nomination for a HSJ Award for Improved Partnerships so it was another timely reminder of the very foundations that underpin devolution: integrated working and joined up thinking.

This is the way we are going to transform the health and wellbeing of Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million citizens and we can only succeed in achieving this with the help and support of everyone in Greater Manchester.

Ian Williamson,
Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution