Leading health sector thinkers examine important trend in health devolution operating ‘under the radar’.
Senior politicians and health experts came together on Tuesday 2nd July to launch a new ‘must read’ collection of essays asking whether devolution is the future for a sustainable, integrated and successful future health and social care system.
Those involved include former Minister of State for Care Services Phil Hope, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Sir David Behan, former Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health foundation – all of whom have contributed to the publication.
DevoConnect, publisher of the essays, believe that in practice health devolution is happening not just in Greater Manchester but across the country through 44 new Integrated Care Systems. However, there has been very little debate about the pros and cons of this ‘hidden’ trend.
Potential positives could include:
- Health services better tuned and more responsive to local needs through place-based ways of working
- Genuine opportunity to pool social care and NHS budgets and provide a better, integrated service for patients and improved clinical outcomes
- More democratic accountability and visible local joint civic/clinical leadership
Potential negatives might include:
- Increase in the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ with waiting times for health services in different areas possibly widening
- NHS pay, standards and culture undermined by underfunded social care
- Reduced traction for the NHS being seen as a national service able to secure extra public spending
The collection of essays – sponsored by Macmillan Cancer Support, Assura plc, New Philanthropy Capital and the trade union Managers in Partnership – covers a broad range of topics, including whether further health devolution could improve cancer care and the radical approach being taken to health care in Greater Manchester.
Writing in the foreword, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said:
“This collection is an important contribution to the debate on how health devolution can enable the building of a population health system that meets, and indeed goes beyond, the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan.
“The contributors to this collection of essays are some of our country’s leading experts on health and social care, each with their own different perspective. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone with an interest in how we can give public services, communities and individuals more control over the decisions which affect them at a local level.”
Former Minister of State for Care Services and current Visiting Professor at Imperial College London, Phil Hope, co-editor, said:
“We believe the collection of essays will make a significant and timely contribution to thought leadership on this extremely important but so far little discussed trend within health and social care policy and politics. As we note in the foreword, the ambition is nothing less than a fully integrated community-based health and social care system that delivers the best possible health and wellbeing for every individual in need.”
“This is a key moment in the future of health and social care devolution. The reality is that the health and social care sector is collaborating at a devolved level like never before but what are the benefits, what are the potential negatives? These essays are a significant contribution to what must become a wider conversation.”