Greater Manchester is at the forefront of the government’s plans for regional devolution. In 2014, as part his wider plan to create a Northern Powerhouse, Chancellor George Osborne announced that control of decision making and budgets would be devolved to the local government in the Greater Manchester region.
Alongside control of housing, police and transport, “Devo-Manc” will see an elected regional mayor and the Greater Manchester combined authority handed control of the region’s health and social care spending – a budget worth an estimated £6bn, which could prove key in deciding the success of the project.
Speaking at the recent National Optical Conference earlier this month, chair of the Manchester local eye health network and optical lead for Local Optical Committee Support Unit, Dharmesh Patel, said that the new model is “completely new territory for England.”
“Primary care services are in the mix,” said Mr Patel, stressing the need to keep eye health on the agenda.
Speaking to OT, Mr Patel explained that the devolution of the health and social care spending could lead to the commissioning of streamlined services at the Greater Manchester level, and that there is clear opportunity to demonstrate the value that optometrists add value to the NHS.
“What we really want to do is to be able to influence commissioners in the area to say we should be using community optometry at the heart of delivery, and that there’s no need for a postcode lottery across Greater Manchester,” he said.
With a population of more than 2.7 million, the Greater Manchester region is covered by 12 clinical commissioning groups. Delivering new models of care look set to bring new challenges, and other regions in the north vying for devolution, including Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds, will be watching closely.
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