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NHS England sets tests for health and social care devolution deals

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Councils hoping to gain Greater Manchester-style devolved powers over health and social care must convince NHS England that the benefits of the move would go beyond integration of the two services, the body’s chief executive has said.

Simon Stevens told delegates at the recent Local Government Association annual conference yesterday that the devolution of £6bn of health and social care budgets to the Greater Manchester combined authority would test the benefits for other parts of the public sector and the area’s economy as a whole.

He said: “This is going to be a very important test of the presumption you can put one and one together and get more than two; or in this case £5bn [of NHS money] and £1bn [of social care funding] and get more value.”

Mr Stevens named several “tests” NHS England would apply to areas interested in following the Manchester mode: They are whether:

·         The proposal made sense for the geography;

·         The organisations involved had “clarity of vision and a game plan”;

·         What plans were in place to “produce benefits that go beyond the two statutory services”.

Mr Stevens added that the Greater Manchester approach to the devolution of health and social care was one of “three or four ways” to further integration over this parliament.

Others would be: the voluntary extension of the better care fund; the new care models being trialled under NHS England’s vanguard programme; and the “blending” of health and social care funding to create integrated personal commissioning budgets for more patient cohorts, such as patients with learning disabilities.

He said that NHS organisations in Harrogate, where the conference was held, aimed to create an integrated care organisation to which it was “likely” full population spending would be delegated.

He said: “It’s at times like these we need to think big and go fast, rather than hide behind our portcullises.”

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