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Taking charge? Learning from health and social care devolution in Greater Manchester

Kieran Walshe, Professor of Health Policy and Management reflects on the recent Teddy Chester lecture, which was given by Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP)

In our annual Teddy Chester lecture in November 2017, Jon Rouse set out the long view on health and social care devolution. He outlined the history of tensions between healthcare and local government, and between local and national governance in health and social care - from the origins of the NHS in 1948, through reorganisations and changes in the 1970s and 1980s, to the present day.

His message was clear - that finding a new way forward to integrate health and social care, to provide both local and national democratic accountability, and to focus on the present and future needs of people and populations was essential. He outlined the origins of the Greater Manchester experiment with health and social care devolution, and some of the early developments since the new arrangements went live in April 2016.

It was evident that the real impact of health and social care devolution will only be seen in the longer term, but that developments in Greater Manchester held important lessons for the organisation of health and social care across England.