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Spring Newsflash 2017

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Historic Manchester Devolution Agreement

Historic devolution agreement for health and social care organisations and voluntary, community and social enterprise sector

In what’s being billed as another devolution first, a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Greater Manchester Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector, comprising of nearly 15, 000 organisations.

Greater Manchester today becomes the only area of the country to formally recognise in an official agreement, the contribution and importance of the VCSE sector in designing and delivering health and social care services.

The ground-breaking five-year agreement, which is backed up by over £1.1m in investment from the Partnership’s transformation fund is the product of hundreds of conversations over the past year designed to establish a new way for the statutory and VCSE sectors to work together as two equal, complementary partners. The Partnership’s transformation fund is a £450m pot to push forward changes needed to create a sustainable care system.

Alex Whinnom, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO), member of the VCSE Reference Group which negotiated the agreement and Partnership board member said: “This agreement is more than just words – it really recognises the value of equal partnership between the statutory and VCSE sectors with each playing to our strengths. It shows that once again we are thinking and doing things differently here in Greater Manchester and we are not afraid of radical change if that will make a difference to everyone.”

“We know that there are significant challenges to overcome and this MoU sets out our ambitions to start moving the focus from fixing problems to enabling people to stay well in the first place. VCSE organisations are best placed to support and mobilise people and communities to do more for themselves and others, and benefit from a better quality of life.”

Greater Manchester VCSE organisations are already major providers of health and social care (c5,000), community development (c5,000) and sports and leisure (c4,000) and bring considerable resources in the form of independent income and volunteers.  Local government and the statutory health sector contribute only 38% of Greater Manchester’s VCSE income; and 1.1m hours per week of formal volunteering are given.

The MoU builds on the Partnership’s five transformation themes outlined in ‘Taking Charge of our Health and Social Care’:

  1. Helping people live healthier lives: The VCSE sector is at the forefront of providing community activities and resources that allow people to stay well and live independently. VCSE groups reach huge numbers of residents, can help mobilise communities, change behaviours and find the ‘missing thousands’. GreaterSport is a Greater Manchester Charity changing lives through physical activity and sport.  Working with a wide range of partners from the public, private and voluntary sector, they aim to increase the health and wellbeing of residents by making an active lifestyle, the easy choice in order to increase regular participation.
  2. Transforming community-based care and support: integrated care and support will benefit from the involvement of VCSE providers to assist with co-design, co-delivery and provision of services, particularly in relation to Local Care Organisations. 41% of VCSE groups across Greater Manchester work in a specific neighbourhood.
    Hope Citadel Healthcare is a social enterprise that provides primary care services in Fitton Hill (Oldham), Hollinwood, Levenshulme and Middleton, ensuring good health care gets to people with the greatest health needs, but also works to improve people’s health and well-being to stop them getting ill in the first place.
  3. Helping hospitals work better together: VCSE organisations provide specialist services which patients rely on such as community transport, language interpretation and meet and greet services. VCSE organisations can help ensure disadvantaged groups, people with needs for reasonable adjustments and people with experience of discrimination can benefit equally from health and social care changes.
    Miles of Smiles is a community transport and befriending scheme in Tameside, which has been running for over ten years. It was set up to reduce the number of missed appointments by people who have difficulty accessing or using public transport to attend health related appointments. In twelve months, volunteer drivers helped patients access around 10, 000 appointments.
  4. Sharing more across the whole public services: this programme is mainly relevant to the statutory sector, though the VCSE sector can assist through offering its skillset and knowledge base to help reduce overheads.
  5. Enabling better care: the VCSE sector can offer building and venues within communities or take on buildings through asset transfer. The VCSE workforce of paid staff, volunteers and carers can be developed alongside that of the statutory sector, enabling mutual support and learning.

Other programme themes within the Partnership include cancer, learning disabilities, mental health, dementia and diabetes; which the VCSE sector is also well-placed to deliver on.

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: “I’m delighted that we are able to lead the way here in Greater Manchester and recognise the strength of our individual and collective communities to play their part in devolution. The inclusion of the voluntary sector is critical to the success of health and social care devolution.”

“The voluntary sector is essential to full health and social care integration. It’s only through a community-based approach that we will see the radical upgrades needed to transform services and deliver improvements to people’s health, care and life expectancy.”

“This agreement builds on a long history of collaboration across Greater Manchester and is vital to delivering the greatest and fastest improvement to the health and wellbeing of the people of Greater Manchester”.

The Partnership and the VCSE sector have agreed to:

  • Develop and maintain a Greater Manchester VCSE Assembly and provide good, consistent and up-to-date information to the VCSE sector. The VCSE Reference Group will be the first point-of-call for engagement with the sector.
  • Enable conversations between both sectors in the form of focus groups, discussions, surveys etc. and ensure that VCSE leaders are represented at strategic boards and working parties.
  • Enable VCSE policy experts to contribute and respond to strategy and policy documents and impact assessments.
  • Support and extend remit of the VCSE Equalities Group.

Lord Peter Smith, Chair of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said:“The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector is vital to developing and delivering solutions to the some of the most persistent and pressing health and social care issues in Greater Manchester.”

“This agreement is hugely welcome and I look forward to building on the strength of our existing relationships and the opportunities presented by devolution to involve local groups and communities in the transformation of health and social care.”

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