Policy consultation – health and wellbeing

Labour Health Policy

Six years of Tory Government has been a disaster for our health and care services in Greater Manchester. Instead of focusing on improving the care of older people, or making sure we’re training enough staff, the Tory Government in Westminster has been obsessing over reorganisation and privatisation. As a result our hospitals are facing record deficits, hundreds of thousands of patients are stuck on growing waiting lists and older people are not receiving the care they deserve. Mental health has been neglected, health inequalities continue to worsen, and too many people are dying prematurely from preventable diseases.

Devolution gives us the opportunity to address some of these problems, but it also presents challenges – such as how can we improve services at a time when the NHS and social care is under such intense financial pressure?

Andy’s ideas

A Health and Care Service for Greater Manchester

I want Greater Manchester to have the country’s first fully-integrated National Health and Care Service, building on the work that is already ongoing across our region to bring social care and the NHS together. This will be a big change from the 20th century – when we thought of health in terms of buildings and institutions. In this century the home and not the hospital should be the default setting for care. Wherever possible, people should be supported by a single team providing high quality personalised care with the aim of helping them get the most out of life.

Workforce

Many of the problems facing the NHS and social care services in Greater Manchester are workforce related, ranging from shortages of key and specialist staff to the quality of training for care workers. At the moment workforce policy is determined by the Westminster Government and an organisation called Health Education England. This approach hasn’t been working for Greater Manchester. Our area is overly reliant on recruitment from overseas and on hiring expensive agency staff. At a time when health and care services need every penny possible this approach is unsustainable.

I want Greater Manchester to be able to develop its own workforce plan, and to have more control over the funding held in Westminster. This would allow the Mayor to plan for the workforce needs of Greater Manchester, ensuring we have enough doctors and nurses, developing new career pathways for local people, and looking at how young people can be supported financially throughout their training.

Mental health

Too many people in our region who experience a mental health problem do not get the help they need. The situation is particularly grave for children who have to face long waits to get the right care or are left to struggle without any support at all. I want to make mental health a priority in Greater Manchester, and do everything within my power to ensure that parity of esteem between mental and physical health becomes a reality. We should be doing more to tackle the stigma that prevents so many people from coming forward and getting help. And we should be investing in prevention to make sure problems are spotted early and dealt with before they reach crisis point.

It’s not just mental health services that are often not there when needed. Parents of children with autism often face a monumental battle for support, and there can be long waits for services like speech and language therapy and crucial support like specialist wheelchairs. As Mayor I would have a clear focus on improving the support for children with special needs. I want to return Greater Manchester to an “Every Child Matters” approach and commit to GM-wide strategies on disability and autism.

Health inequalities

Greater Manchester still tops the league table of poor health. High levels of cardiovascular disease and deaths from preventable cancers give our community some of the shortest life expectancies in the country. To tackle these health inequalities, we need to link the NHS with the broader determinants of health – like housing, planning, leisure and education. I want the Mayor to bring all of these functions together across Greater Manchester and take the lead on public health, where the Westminster Government has left a vacuum.

Health and Housing

I want to place a new emphasis on building homes with care and support in mind. With an ageing population, we should be looking at following the lead of countries like Sweden and start building specially-designed ‘dementia friendly’ homes as part of a plan to make Greater Manchester the most dementia friendly city-region in the country.

Questions for consultation

  1. What steps do we need to take to support the integration of health and social care across Greater Manchester?
  2. Hospitals in Greater Manchester are facing record deficits and there is an £81m black hole in social care funding. Should the new Mayor be demanding more resources from Westminster for health and social care?
  3. Should the Mayor be calling for more powers over workforce planning? And if so, what needs to be done to improve the education and training of staff in both the NHS and social care?
  4. How can we improve the mental health support available to children and young people at school? And how do we tackle the stigma associated with mental health?
  5. What more can be done to reduce health inequalities and encourage more people to live a healthier lifestyle?
  6. How do we make Greater Manchester autism and dementia friendly?