Devolution will boost Manchester’s healthcare, says senior doctor

Devolution to the region will deliver massive benefits to health and social care including the diagnosis and treatment of dementia according to a senior Manchester health official.

Dr JS Bamrah, Medical Director at the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, said greater powers will allow for localised targets and drastically improve provision of medical services in the region.

His comments come after George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the city will have a directly elected mayor in 2017 and more control over how its budget is spent.

He told MM: “I think that too much power rests within London and Westminster.

“My personal feeling on this is that [devolution] will absolutely benefit patients and the public because you can actually work for your local population.”

Along with more independence over spending on housing, public services, and transport, devolution will add the power to combine health and social care funds, and grant more control over the health budget.

Dr Bamrah said that objectives currently set by central government are not always applicable across the UK, and new powers will result in more appropriate targets.

“Whatever pot of money you get at the minute is handed down from Whitehall and Westminster and often there is central interference in how you might be able to use it,” he said.

“Dementia would be one typical thing – there might still be national targets, but too often there are national targets that are applied across the branch which are not meaningful clinically.

“I would hope that we would be able to develop locally for Manchester, such as things about teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse, substance misuse; local policies that we could apply a little bit more resource into.”

Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), said of devolution: “It gives us greater control over our own destiny in several key areas and the ability to base decisions on local priorities and needs rather than on ‘one size fits all’ dictates from Westminster.”

As part of the plans for greater independence, the GMCA will work alongside central government to develop a plan for joined up health and social care.

Dr Bamrah added: “I think that we would be able to apply resources much more to our population and target them, rather than resting on Westminster to dictate how they should be used.”

Image courtesy of Stacey Cavanagh, with thanks.

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