North East Mayoral Candidate and LEP Board Member Jeremy Middleton has welcomed the transfer of health and social care budgets from Westminster to Greater Manchester, and warned that without devolution the North East will miss out on the same.
He went on to call for the integration of health and social care in the region, stating that this could help to solve issues like ‘bed blocking’, which causes issues in hospitals each winter.
Mr Middleton said: “Moving the £4 billion budget for health and social care in Greater Manchester from Whitehall is a hugely positive move for their area. With it they have also secured hundreds of millions of pounds worth of extra funding. This sort of deal, which would protect the NHS in the North East by putting it in the hands of local people rather than Westminster, is possible for us too if local politicians get their act together and put the needs of the region ahead of party political dogma.
“Being married to a former midwife, I know just how important it is to have a North East focussed healthcare policy. Bringing power over this to the region would allow us to have a joined up approach to health and social, letting us to tackle issues like ‘bed blocking’ by improving communications and letting health and social care professionals work together rather than in competition with each other. We could also make more effective use our resources, and improve care for the elderly.
“What Greater Manchester is getting is available to us, we just need the ambition to make it happen. If this works we could see countless other powers brought under local control. The proposed North East Devolution Deal already sets out a plan for a commission into integrating health and social care, as mayor I would make sure this happens, that its findings were publicly available, and that its recommendations were carried out, not derailed by vested interests.
“Politicians should get around the table with doctors, nurses, other people from the caring professions, and members of the public, to make the health and social care commission as high profile, wide ranging, and open as possible.”