Greater Manchester is to become the first English region to get full control of its health spending. This plan will see local leaders and ultimately the new elected Mayor to control how budgets are allocated. Historically, since its creation in 1948, the NHS has remained separate from the Council run care system that oversees care in the home and care home places. These changes will allow these two systems to become joined.
In theory there are positive aspects to this change. By joining up the budgets, health and social care can be provided in a much more co-ordinated manner. This winter, hospitals have struggled to cope with the increasing number of patients, and in particular to move patients through the system and discharge them into community, due to a lack of availability and support in the community. This has lead to blockages in the hospital system. Also, the lack of care and support in the community has been raised, as one of the factors behind the rise in attendance to A&E this winter.
Whether these changes will lead to an improvement in the service received in Manchester is not yet clear, but what is clear is that Manchester's progress will be closely followed.