Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham inspired audiences at the recent NHS Providers Conference

Manchester’s Central Convention Centre hosted the Annual NHS Providers conference recently. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester gave a powerful speech describing the transformation in health and social care being aspired to in the Greater Manchester model.

I remember Andy as the Health Secretary I delivered the 2009 Independent review of NHS staff health to, and as a politician willing to embrace change and recognise a need to think differently.

Manchester is grasping the opportunity afforded by devolution to think differently, and part of this requires tackling issues from a different perspective. For example, instead of accepting the rising costs of dealing with the health problems and issues caused by homelessness, innovative ways have been found of funding a “bed every night”, reducing the mental and physical toll that sleeping rough causes.

In Manchester 10 Councils are working pro-actively with the NHS to pioneer new ways of organising public services to meet local needs and Andy Burnham is using the opportunity of devolution to break the silos that exist and reduce opportunities to prevent issues rather than simply continue to treat problems.

In 2010 I spoke at the launch of the Marmot review, Professor. Sir Michael Marmot highlighted the true causes that mean that life expectancy across the UK can vary by more than 2 decades, even in modern day society. Marmot highlighted that these causes extend beyond healthcare and require wider societal co-operation extending across the life course.

In Manchester, this is driving approaches that begin in schools providing opportunities for better home and social lives and which support active ageing, with the aspiration of becoming a “Marmot City-Region”.

A new approach to healthcare commissioning, shifts the model to become based on locality collocated services can work together to focus on prevention and early intervention with much greater integration than traditional approaches. I have always worried that statistics hide the people that are counted by them and Andy spoke in his speech of the requirement to think of “names, not numbers”.

At a recent overseas conference, I saw similar approaches in China and New Zealand where local leaders had recognised a need to think about healthcare design in relation to the person at the centre, rather than from the perspective of the health care providers.

Inspiringly the Manchester aspiration recognises too that health and social care are intrinsically linked and he called in his speech for the need to DWP to also recognise the potential afforded by devolution, enabling flexibility within the benefits system to give better support to the personal needs of individuals. Greater Manchester is already showing savings from a Working Well programme and having spent part of my career working in the world of disability assessment I agree with Andy that fundamental reform linked to personalised needs supported by integrated services is what we really need to close the health inequalities Sir Michael so clearly highlighted.

Empactis has been working for some years with one of the leading Health Trusts in the Manchester area and our approach is to recognise that individual employee needs require understanding and support. I have had opportunity to meet and understand some of the ground-breaking work being championed in Manchester and I congratulate the Mayor on his vision and progress!