Mancxit: Looking in on a health system that’s leading the way and putting patients at its heart

The skyline of Salford Quays in greater Manchester.

You don’t have to be from Greater Manchester to be aware of their innovative approach being taken towards health and social care.

At this years British Cardiovascular Disease (BCS) conference, Professor Huon Gray, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease, introduced the session by stating that; “Lots of people are looking at what’s going on in Manchester and the magnitude of what’s happening here.”

So what’s occurring to transform the way healthcare is delivered for the 2.8 million people living in the city?

The background

The devolution of health and social care in Manchester, more commonly known as ‘Devomanc’, started on April 1 2016, becoming the first ever area to take control of its combined health and social care budgets.

This came as a result of ‘a huge amount of will’ from the 35 organisations involved, according to Dr Richard Preece, Executive Lead for Quality of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

The landmark agreement happened as a result of organisations coming together and seeking out a partnership that would give permission to make decisions themselves. The rationale being that those in positions of power know the patient population better than anyone.

The prompt for change

Cardiology is provided at all hospitals across Greater Manchester and it has two specialist centres. However, the region has some of the poorest outcomes in the country, along with vast variations between different providers.

Dr Preece referenced the game-changing, ‘taking charge’ document, published in 2015, which sought to address the problem faced, with an aim to improve the health landscape so that it was ‘at least equivalent to the rest of England.’

One of the few illustrative targets of the document was to reduce cardiovascular disease deaths by 600 — on the face of it, ‘not a hugely stretch target’, explained Dr Preece, however a challenging one when all barriers are considered.

Glaring inequalities

This challenge was brought to life by Professor Ian Greer, Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health of the University of Manchester, when highlighting the 15 year gap in life expectancy between a girl born in Manchester verses a girl born in Richmond — a particularly stark statistic emphasising the, ‘substantial health inequalities’ of the region.

‘We’ve got a responsibility, a duty, to come together and make a difference to that population’
- Professor Greer, when explaining the opportunity for health research collaboration in the North.

He explained the importance of the coalition between the eight leading medical schools and eight NHS teaching hospitals in Greater Manchester, amongst other key organisations, to drive research, innovation and change services across the North.

Not only will this create a ‘unique super system’ for health and economic gain across the region but will act as a ‘laboratory’ of how the NHS can change as a whole.

But fundamentally, ‘Devomanc’ was designed with the ‘One Manchester’ perspective in mind — a system with patients at its heart that will improve healthcare for the people of the region.

‘Devolution is about keeping promises to people around us’, Dr Richard Preece explains — ‘it’s about understanding and addressing variation in CVD, improving quality as a whole system and incentivising change.’

Click here for more information on the devolution of health and social care in Manchester.