Manchester – a good test-bed for health and social care integration
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
If Manchester is indeed ‘the belly and guts of the nation’ as George Orwell described it in ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, then what better place for the first serious trial of an integrated health and social care system?
Since the announcement in late February that Manchester is to become the first English region to run its own £6bn health and social care budget, the scheme has already attracted a wodge of big-hitting nay-sayers. To the fore is shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, the MP for the Greater Manchester seat of Leigh and frontrunner to succeed Ed Miliband, who warns that the plans could lead to a “Swiss-cheese NHS”. “Lancashire Crumbly” may be a good local cheesy metaphor for the present condition of the NHS.
But how else is it ever going to happen? The great and the good have been banging on about the need for ‘joined-up services’ for years and it is patently clear that the NHS has not evolved to effectively respond to the demands of a complex modern society. It cannot match the capabilities of modern medicine and is no longer fit for purpose. Let’s see how Manchester gets on – it could be a significant step towards a brave new world.
Richard Humphries, assistant director of policy at The King’s Fund, has said Manchester was chosen because of the strength of local relationships. Let’s hope the belly and guts of the nation doesn’t find health and social care integration too difficult to digest.
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