The face of health and social care in Wigan looks set be transformed by a pioneering act of unification.
It would see the local authority and borough’s GP body pool a significant portion of their budget to integrate two key sectors which have sometimes worked at odds with each other.
The move, if approved by the town hall’s cabinet and the Clinical Commission Group (CCG) meeting this month, would see the creation of a single commissioning function.
A joint committee, comprising politicians and clinicians, would oversee the combined health and social care budget, the aim being to ensure tight funds are spent as effectively as possible on health and care services for the local population.
Following the £6bn devolution of health and social care in 2016, each of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs were tasked with producing a local plan to improve residents’ health and to make services seamless.
In a joint statement, Wigan Council and the CCG said: “The long-term health and wellbeing of residents will only be secured if organisations and individuals work together to take charge of the health needs of Greater Manchester.
“We’re already seeing some really positive results of this kind of joined up working between adult social care services and community nursing and with GP clusters, and in places like Scholes where public services like the police, health and council work together under one roof to solve some of the local issues.
“To support the providers of services working together it is really important that commissioning of these services is also joined up as much as possible.
“It is a great step forward for the council and CCG to not only continue to work effectively together but to have a responsibility for a shared budget.”
A long-time advocate of this “joined-up thinking” has been former Health Secretary and now Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
He said today: “Devolution has given us the opportunity to completely transform the way we look after people in Greater Manchester.
“For too long our public services have been working in silos but now we have the chance to work together and give people the care they need.
“As in other parts of Greater Manchester, this move shows how Wigan is moving away from a 20th century treatment service to a modern 21st century integrated health and social care service. This will undoubtedly help the lives of so many in Wigan.”
While the permanent committee would only come into force in April 2018, councillors and CCG body will be asked to decide whether a shadow committee can be formed in the meantime to begin making the necessary preparations.