The Devo Manc Supper Club


The supper club at Whalley Range cricket club last night was good. There were about 30 people there from Clinical Commissioning groups, NHS Trusts, patient organisations, academia, trade unions etc. It was a good opportunity to network.

The project manager for DevoManc, Warren Heppolette, was there and gave a 10 minute outline of the background to the announcement to the policy, which had gone on for sometime with Treasury officials before the announcement of the policy in February. It gave an insight in terms of how Westminster works.

Warren outlined the ambition of DevoManc as a rare opportunity to address the health and health care problems within the Greater Manchester city region. Greater Manchester was perceived both locally and from Westminster as economically the most powerful amongst its Northern peers of Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield but was being held back from realising its full potential by the poor health and well being and limited educational attainment of many of its 2.8 million citizens. The city region was also poorly served by the local healthcare internal market which had existed from 1991 onwards and the competition between the local big NHS acute foundation trusts. DevoManc was seen as a way of rising above market forces, requiring NHS providers to work together collaboratively rather than knock each other out through competition.  It would need to focus on the outcomes of the whole system.

Warren saw that the outcome and impact of DevoManc would be that in so many years (he did not give a target) that the life expectancy of the local population would have risen by 4 years.

He saw that DevoManc would be more than a structural solution to health inequalities but would require a social movement of citizens to engage with public agencies and adopt healthier lifestyles.

He also recognized the realities of the poor financial situation of the GM healthcare economy and did not seem optimistic about this being ameliorated by Westminster to send the good ship DevoManc on its inaugural voyage.

Warren went as far as to say that conversations had been started with Monitor, Health Education England and the NHS Trust Development Authority to discuss changing how they operated to fit with different policy and practice in GM. They had not approached the Care Quality Commission as yet.

There was mention of building on collaborative projects so far such as Healthier Together but this was seen by some of the audience as a poor example of partnership working.

Questions from the floor were generally of an optimistic but cautious nature and people welcomed this once in a generation opportunity to address the health problems of Greater Manchester . Concerns were expressed about how little engagement there had been with wider stakeholders outside council leaders, their officials and NHS England.  For example, local MPs were sceptical about the policy and George Osborne’s intentions.