Councils hoping to gain Greater Manchester style devolved powers over health and social care must convince NHS England that the benefits of the move would go beyond integration of the two services, the body’s chief executive has said.

Simon Stevens told delegates at the Local Government Association annual conference yesterday that the devolution of £6bn of health and social care budgets to the Greater Manchester combined authority would test the benefits for other parts of the public sector and the area’s economy as a whole.

Simon Stevens

Health and social care devolution is one of ‘three or four ways’ to further integration, Simon Stevens said

He said: “This is going to be a very important test of the presumption you can put one and one together and get more than two; or in this case, £5bn [of NHS money] and £1bn [of social care funding] and get more value.”

Mr Stevens named several “tests” NHS England would apply to areas interested in following the Manchester mode: They are whether:

  • the proposal made sense for the geography;
  • the organisations involved had “clarity of vision and a game plan”; and
  • what plans were in place to “produce benefits that go beyond the two statutory services”.

Mr Stevens added that the Greater Manchester approach to the devolution of health and social care was one of “three or four ways” to further integration over this Parliament.

Others would be:

  • the voluntary extension of the better care fund;
  • new care models being trialled under NHS England’s vanguard programme; and
  • the “blending” of health and social care funding to create integrated personal commissioning budgets for more patient cohorts, such as patients with learning disabilities.

He said that NHS organisations in Harrogate, where the conference was held, aimed to create an integrated care organisation to which it was “likely” full population spending would be delegated.

Mr Stevens said: “It’s at times like these we need to think big and go fast, rather than hide behind our portcullises.”

Stevens: NHS wants to help design ‘health promoting’ housing developments

The NHS is seeking to help councils to design “health promoting” housing developments, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has said.

In a speech to the Local Government Association’s annual conference, he admitted the NHS had not always been supportive of authorities’ development and regeneration efforts.

“The NHS has probably not been terribly good partner on the broader economic housing agenda and the economic participation agenda that many local authorities are actively getting their teeth into,” he said.

“The NHS wants to play it part.”

Mr Stevens’ pledge of support for housing developments follows a proposal for health and social care “new towns” made in the NHS Five Year Forward View, which was published last year.

Under the proposal, the health needs of future residents will be considered during the planning stage of new developments.

This aims to help the NHS to design modern health services that make the best use of technology and its estate.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Stevens said while councils considered infrastructure such as schools as part of new developments, the NHS was often slow to respond with new services, such as GP practices.

One delegate said his council had previously been told there was no money for new NHS facilities when attempting to engage with the health service during the planning stage.

Mr Stevens said this was partly because the formula that determines how much funding local NHS commissioners receive took time to catch up with changes in the population size.

He added: “We can’t do this everywhere but in five or so parts of the country that are high growth we have these questions about how we do upfront redesign [of health services], so we don’t just keep doing the same old, same old.”

In a statement released following the speech, Mr Stevens said NHS England, in conjunction with Public Health England, wanted to work with councils and others in up to five areas “to design and develop new town partnerships that put innovative health and social care practice at the very heart of urban planning”.

This would include designing healthy living, making best use of new technology which can support older people at home, and sharing infrastructure across public services, it added.

Local authorities, housing associations and the construction sector are invited to identify projects in England where they would like NHS support in creating health promoting new towns and neighbourhoods.

These could range from small developments up projects of more than 10,000 units. 

Organisations have until 30 September to submit expressions of interest.