Manchester becomes first region to gain control of health spending

Greater Manchester is set to become the first English region to gain control of its health spending, as part of an extension of devolved powers.

The £6 billion health and social care budget will be taken over by the region’s councils and health groups. The Greater Manchester Strategic Partnership is now formed of 37 organisations including hospital trusts, NHS England, the 10 borough councils and GP commissioners.

The group will make key decisions on how budgets are allocated and targeted at specific health issues, instead of decisions being made at Whitehall. The government has claimed the move will help integrate health and social care services and ease pressure on hospitals, while improving home care services for patients who need it.

Lord Smith, who is leader of Wigan Council, said: "The big vision is about people and getting people's health in Greater Manchester better. We spend £6 billion on health and social care but life expectancy in Greater Manchester is not as good as it should be.

"Lots of people suffer from long-term illness and we've got great ambition to do something about their health. But it's wider than health we want to do something for the economy. A lot of people can't get into work because they have health problems, so if we can help them there will be more people getting back into work and we will have more wealth created in Manchester."