Six years of Tory Government has been a disaster for our health and care services in Greater Manchester. Instead of focusing on improving the care of older people, or making sure we’re training enough staff, the Tory Government in Westminster has been obsessing over reorganisation and privatisation. As a result our hospitals are facing record deficits, hundreds of thousands of patients are stuck on growing waiting lists and older people are not receiving the care they deserve. Mental health has been neglected, health inequalities continue to worsen, and too many people are dying prematurely from preventable diseases.

Devolution gives us the opportunity to address some of these problems, but it also presents challenges – such as how can we improve services at a time when the NHS and social care is under such intense financial pressure?

Andy’s ideas

A Health and Care Service for Greater Manchester

I want Greater Manchester to have the country’s first fully-integrated National Health and Care Service, building on the work that is already ongoing across our region to bring social care and the NHS together. This will be a big change from the 20th century – when we thought of health in terms of buildings and institutions. In this century the home and not the hospital should be the default setting for care. Wherever possible, people should be supported by a single team providing high quality personalised care with the aim of helping them get the most out of life.


Many of the problems facing the NHS and social care services in Greater Manchester are workforce related, ranging from shortages of key and specialist staff to the quality of training for care workers. At the moment workforce policy is determined by the Westminster Government and an organisation called Health Education England. This approach hasn’t been working for Greater Manchester. Our area is overly reliant on recruitment from overseas and on hiring expensive agency staff. At a time when health and care services need every penny possible this approach is unsustainable.

I want Greater Manchester to be able to develop its own workforce plan, and to have more control over the funding held in Westminster. This would allow the Mayor to plan for the workforce needs of Greater Manchester, ensuring we have enough doctors and nurses, developing new career pathways for local people, and looking at how young people can be supported financially throughout their training.

Mental health

Too many people in our region who experience a mental health problem do not get the help they need. The situation is particularly grave for children who have to face long waits to get the right care or are left to struggle without any support at all. I want to make mental health a priority in Greater Manchester, and do everything within my power to ensure that parity of esteem between mental and physical health becomes a reality. We should be doing more to tackle the stigma that prevents so many people from coming forward and getting help. And we should be investing in prevention to make sure problems are spotted early and dealt with before they reach crisis point.

It’s not just mental health services that are often not there when needed. Parents of children with autism often face a monumental battle for support, and there can be long waits for services like speech and language therapy and crucial support like specialist wheelchairs. As Mayor I would have a clear focus on improving the support for children with special needs. I want to return Greater Manchester to an “Every Child Matters” approach and commit to GM-wide strategies on disability and autism.

Health inequalities

Greater Manchester still tops the league table of poor health. High levels of cardiovascular disease and deaths from preventable cancers give our community some of the shortest life expectancies in the country. To tackle these health inequalities, we need to link the NHS with the broader determinants of health – like housing, planning, leisure and education. I want the Mayor to bring all of these functions together across Greater Manchester and take the lead on public health, where the Westminster Government has left a vacuum.

Health and Housing

I want to place a new emphasis on building homes with care and support in mind. With an ageing population, we should be looking at following the lead of countries like Sweden and start building specially-designed ‘dementia friendly’ homes as part of a plan to make Greater Manchester the most dementia friendly city-region in the country.

Questions for consultation

  1. What steps do we need to take to support the integration of health and social care across Greater Manchester?
  2. Hospitals in Greater Manchester are facing record deficits and there is an £81m black hole in social care funding. Should the new Mayor be demanding more resources from Westminster for health and social care?
  3. Should the Mayor be calling for more powers over workforce planning? And if so, what needs to be done to improve the education and training of staff in both the NHS and social care?
  4. How can we improve the mental health support available to children and young people at school? And how do we tackle the stigma associated with mental health?
  5. What more can be done to reduce health inequalities and encourage more people to live a healthier lifestyle?
  6. How do we make Greater Manchester autism and dementia friendly?
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  1. The first thing you need to ask is why is the NHS being deliberately underfunded.

    How were we as a Labour Government able to fund and establish the NHS after the war when debt to GDP ratios ran at 250% compared to today at around 89%.

    The answer is obvious, the post war labour Party met the needs of the people and the economy grew, that built a twenty year consensus that even post war Tories were frightened to change. That lasted until friedmanite politicians decided that balancing the books was a logical policy and that state industries were a burden, the private sector knew best mentality, hence the financial crash and even greater excuse to asset strip the state.

    I note Andy that you are already asking people how we can cure the ills that decades of privatisation bestowed on the NHS, the simple answer is to get a real Labour Government elected under Jeremy Corbyn, get the private sector out of the NHS, and to back the reinstatement Bill.

    You are clearly aware that the Tories will be imposing more cuts to your budgets, in order to create the conditions for more privatisation, so talking of wish lists for integrating social care is just a pipe dream,

    “Should the Mayor be calling powers over workforce planning? And if so, what needs to done to improve the education and training of staff in both the NHS and social care?”

    To say this tells me you are just playing games somehow blaming the staff for the total disorganisation created by the reorganisation, I’m ashamed of the way politicians of the Blair era were complicit in privatising the NHS and as you were a minister of health in that government, are indeed responsible for the chaos we now have,

    In short I have absolutely no confidence in you, and how you will improve the health service for the people of Manchester is simply beyond me.

    The Tories are as we speak dismantling our NHS, whilst you play games with peoples lives.

  2. Brian Woodward says:

    Andy, you seem to be happy that Manchester has been given it’s own budget for providing health care. This is just another step in the fragmentation process that the Tories are pushing and it will lead to even more administrative costs and underfunding of front line services.

    On the face of it it sounds good that local people are having a say on how NHS money will be spent in the Manchester area but how long before the government says “now that you have a devolved budget you can raise the money via a local tax to run these services”. After all it’s all dressed up as “giving power back to the people”. It is possible that a conurbation such as that surounding Manchester would have the resources to raise sufficient funds to run it’s health service, but smaller regions would be in no position to raise the sums involved and what happens then? One thing for sure is that London, with it’s access to taxes from The City of London would have the best well funded health care system in the country.

    You should not be taken in by this fragmentation process and campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill which will give responsibility for providing health care back to where it belongs and that is on the table of the Minister for Health Jeremy Hunt.

    1. Martin Rathfelder says:

      The people in Wales seem to think its an improvement to be running their own affairs. Why should Manchester (and other areas) not do the same?

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