Health campaigners hail plans for £6bn NHS budget control for Manchester

Campaigners have welcomed plans for control of the £6billion NHS budget in Greater Manchester to be handed over to city council and health leaders.

The Socialist Health Association, made up of doctors and health professionals, say they are hopeful the move will bring ‘much greater benefits to patients and communities’ in the region.

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to confirm the agreement on Friday, which will see town hall bosses given power over every penny spent on local health services.

A statement, released today by the SHA, said: “We welcome the announcement that control of the NHS budget is to be handed to Greater Manchester authorities and we look forward to working much more closely with these elected local authorities. 

“Under the right conditions this can be an opportunity to ensure that our Manchester Health Service – MHS – brings much greater benefits to patients and communities. 

“MHS patients must be equal partners in decisions about their own care and of their families and the MHS should be much more democratically accountable than the NHS has been in the past.  Manchester still has huge inequalities in health.  

“The average age at death of people living in the most deprived parts of the conurbation is ten years less than among those living in the most prosperous areas.”

Plans are expected to come into force as early as April 2016 and a shadow Greater Manchester Health and Wellbeing board will be appointed.

The move marks yet another huge step for the city’s devolution scheme and comes just three months after chancellor George Osborne announced plans for Manchester to have a directly elected mayor to preside over regional issues.

The Socialist Health Association added: “The NHS has never been able to tackle inequality on its own but the MHS will be the biggest employer in the region and with local councils must use its muscle to reduce inequality. 

“At the same time we want to see an end to wasteful and damaging competition between hospitals. 

“MHS should bring much closer working between social services, citizens, patients, carers, families, communities, hospitals, family doctors, pharmacists and other clinicians, researchers and the voluntary sector and to establish real parity of esteem between mental and physical health.”

SHA signees include Aneet Kapoor, chair of Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee, and Dr Umesh Pradhu, medical director of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

Image courtesy of Pmecologic, with thanks.

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