Ivan Lewis for mayor

Devolution Election

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to seek the Socialist Health Association nomination to be the Labour candidate for elected Mayor of Greater Manchester.

 My life changed at the age of 14 when I started doing voluntary work with people with learning disabilities for a locally based voluntary organisation, Outreach. Then at the age of 19 I set up a charity, Contact, supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health problems. From a very young age I was angered by the way people were too often labelled and written off despite having massive potential and their families forced to fight the system rather than receive the support they need.

I then went to work for another social care charity; Manchester Jewish Social Services which was 125 years old. This was an organisation which had lost its sense of direction and I was asked to undertake a major overhaul so it could respond to the challenges of the new era of community care in the 1990s. I served as Chief Executive for five years and oversaw a merger with another social care charity which led to the founding of the Manchester Jewish Federation.

 In 1990 I was elected to Bury Council and served as a Councillor for 8 years with four years as Chair of Social Services. My challenge during this time was very similar to that facing Labour councillors today: protecting the most vulnerable from Tory cuts while seeking service improvement through innovation and new ways of working.

I had the privilege of being elected to parliament in 1997 to serve Bury South where I was born, raised and have lived all my life. I am proud to have turned a Tory seat into a Labour seat and been elected five times. I served for fourteen consecutive years as a frontbencher in a variety of roles and was responsible for pioneering radical policies in skills, health and wellbeing and global health.

I served as Care Services Minister between 2006 and 2008 when I was the first Labour Minister to raise the status of social care within the Government and wider society. I produced a blueprint for a health and wellbeing service in every community, \”Putting People First.\” Introduced an ambitious programme for greater control by people who use services and developed the first ever national dementia plan.

My platform for the Mayoralty is clear. I want the Labour family in Greater Manchester to unite behind a new mission to fight inequality. This will mean prioritising a long-term reduction in health inequality in every part of Greater Manchester.

Throughout my working and political life I have been troubled by the link between social class and ill-health which has shortened far too many people\’s lives and denied many a decent quality of life and the chance to fulfil their potential. In truth, this has been made worse by long periods of Tory Government and ideology but we should have done more during our thirteen years in Government. I know from personal experience how social care was the poor relation in the Department of Health, that for a long time we had no strategy for the ageing society, and the acute NHS part of the Department did everything possible to undermine the integration agenda.

I am proud that I started to change that and now want the chance to show how here in Greater Manchester we can become world leaders in the fight against health inequality.

My Health and Social care manifesto

It is important to recognise that NHS resources are not devolved to the Mayor but to each of the ten local Authority areas which currently make up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. So while there is scope for Mayoral strategic leadership this will be in partnership with the ten council leaders who will form the cabinet, lead Councillors, Clinical Commissioning Groups and provider trust leads, front line staff and people who use services in all those areas.

Strategy is important but what matters most is delivery. That is why it is important to have a politician overseeing this radical programme of change who will protect Labour values, treat frontline staff as partners and understands what needs to be done to create a single system in every community organised around the needs of people who use services and their families.

1. A fair not flawed deal.

The current DevoManc Health and social care deal is setting us up to fail. If elected Mayor I will fight from day one (when I will have maximum authority) to demand a better, fairer deal from Osborne.

A fair deal will include:

  • £1 billion to support the integration of Health and social care not the inadequate existing Transformation fund of £450 million.
  • A clear understanding my cabinet and I will not collude with NHS privatisation. I will initiate a review of the potential benefits of eliminating the internal market in Greater Manchester and how this could be done with minimal organisational reorganisation. If necessary, I will also coordinate a national campaign across local Government to ensure TTIP includes watertight safeguards to prevent the fundamental values of the NHS being put at risk.
  • An end to the dangerous ambiguity about where financial responsibility will lie for trusts which end up in deficit and fighting pandemics which may affect Greater Manchester in the future.
  • More revenue funding for councils social care budgets or the power to levy a precept of up to 5% per year to partially fill the funding gap.
  • An agreement that building on the work of Healthwatch and council  scrutiny committees Greater Manchester will trial new approaches to public and patient involvement in decisions including commissioning which affect their communities.

2. A Greater Manchester Anti-Poverty strategy.

I will recommend to the cabinet, which will be made up of the leaders of the ten local councils in Greater Manchester, that we adopt a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy accompanied by a delivery plan.

At its heart would be a plan to ring-fence resources for an integrated approach to early childhood development. Poverty in all its forms is the biggest driver of poor health and health inequality. But this perennial problem is being made worse as a result of the rigid austerity and cuts of this Tory Government. The poor are being hit the hardest by benefit sanctions, bedroom tax and food bank Britain.

Rising homelessness requires a Greater Manchester wide project management approach which removes unnecessary barriers connected with local Authority boundaries. I am committed to ensuring young people leaving care receive the emotional and practice support they need for as long as is necessary.

3. Health and Social care integration.

In addition to a properly funded Transformation Fund I would work with cabinet colleagues to go well beyond a traditional model of health and social care integration. We must make a reality of shattering organisational silos and moving to prevention and early intervention.

  • All future plans to reduce acute services in a locality will include costed and timetabled plans to improve community based services and influence my decisions on improving public transport connectivity across Greater Manchester. We may need to invest more initially to support these improved community services.
  • Create single community based Health and wellbeing networks/ centres which bring together primary care, local authority services including housing, social care, leisure, adult learning and public health, third sector organisations and active community networks.
  • In partnership with GPs and primary care professionals agree realistic access targets for appointments which would apply across Greater Manchester.
  • Ensure people with chronic illness and/ or complex needs have a designated lead professional, access to person centred planning and transparency about the budget available to meet their needs.
  • End 15 minute home visits by care workers.
  • Create a 24 hr Greater Manchester Carers helpline for people caring for loved ones in the community.
  • Create a distinct funding source for small third sector and community based organisations who are cut out by current commissioning practices.

4. Mental Health

In too many areas access to community based mental health services remains woefully inadequate. After significant improvement in the Labour years Children’s mental health services are once again at crisis point. For all the talk of parity of esteem, cuts mean once again that \”Cinderella “services fall even further behind. I believe this will only change if there is political will at the highest level.

Therefore, my commitment is to take personal responsibility for working with colleagues in each district to improve community mental health services including children\’s mental health services and support for people with dementia.  I will work with users groups, Carers, frontline professionals in statutory and third sector organisations to identify the top three priorities for improvement and deliver transformational change in my first term of office.

I will ask the Deputy Mayor with responsibility for criminal justice to work with me on a plan to prevent people with mental health problems entering the criminal justice system and improve access to mental health services for offenders.

5. Public Health

Clearly, public health will be central to our anti-poverty strategy, health and well-being networks and improved mental health services. But it must also tackle distinct challenges such as obesity, early childhood development and smoking.

I would seek for Greater Manchester to be leading the country on:

  • identifying and tackling the causes of the shocking gap in cancer survival rates linked to social class.
  • Self-care through the use of the most modern forms of available technology.
  • Work with employers to increase job control with a focus on mental health and heart disease.
  • Health checks available in non-medical settings and at the workplace.
  • Encouraging walking (referred to in my green deal), agreements with retailers to remove sugary foods from checkouts, bringing sports organisations and schools together.
  • Improving mothers experience of labour and the support vulnerable mothers get during the first twelve months of a baby\\\’s life so they are able to get some rest.
  • Supporting people to give up smoking in a way that is most likely to succeed e.g. allowing e-cigarettes on NHS premises.
  • Providing grants to grassroots based community organisations to deliver public health interventions in areas which have the greatest levels of health inequality.
  • Creating a centre of best practice where we can identify and disseminate what works across Greater Manchester.
  • Working with our universities to develop and publish research to support our fight against health inequalities.

6. The workforce.

We have serious workforce shortages in most frontline services. This is due to inadequate investment, growing pressure on the professions and in social care low pay and low status.

I will:

  • Identify the scale and mix of workforce necessary to shift from a sickness service to a world-class Health and well-being service.
  • Seek agreement and a plan to minimise the use of agency staff and zero hour contracts.
  • In my first year in office work with Trade unions and employers to identify fair terms and conditions for care workers which means at minimum the real living wage and proper travel allowances. I would use the consequential funding shortfall to inform future negotiations with the Government.
  • Launch a high-profile Greater Manchester campaign including through work experience in schools to raise the status of care workers and allied health professionals. Workers in the care sector need to be valued as we develop a work force to support a growing older population. It is these staff who support families from ‘going under’ and prevent unnecessary costly admissions to hospital.
  •  Create citizens juries of Frontline Health and social care practitioners to provide feedback and ideas.
  • launch a Mayoral Awards scheme focused on projects/ individuals delivering programmes which have a tangible impact on health inequality.

My values are summed up in the phrase \”it\’s not the title you hold, but the difference you make which truly matters.\”

 Despite all the challenges of austerity and Tory cuts we owe it to the people who depend on us to make that difference and fight inequality together.