Council chief will focus on health care

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, left, announces Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith, right, as the region's lead for health and social care, as they meet staff at Wigan Infirmary's Integrated Discharge Hub
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, left, announces Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith, right, as the region's lead for health and social care, as they meet staff at Wigan Infirmary's Integrated Discharge Hub

A familiar face has joined Greater Manchester’s new mayor at the helm of health and social care.

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan Council, has been named as the lead for health and social care in the region.

He joined mayor Andy Burnham, previously MP for Leigh, on a visit to Wigan Infirmary’s integrated discharge hub yesterday.

The pair met staff working on the unit, which opened last year to help patients being discharged from the hospital.

It sees members of different organisations, including healthcare, Wigan Council and homelessness charity The Brick, working together to provide individual health and social care plans for patients.

Lord Smith said: “When we see the work that goes on in here and the fact that we are by far in Wigan the best place to get you settled back in the community so you are not coming back in the next week, that’s real integration.

“Local authority and volunteer groups working with the health sector - everyone is in there working as a team.

“We need to get Manchester working as a team.”

Lord Smith said his priorities would include looking at the configuration of hospitals, treating people in the community when possible and discharging them quickly if they need to go to hospital.

He also wants to look at mental health services.

Mr Burnham said he and Lord Smith were “good friends” and had a lot of experience after working together for many years.

And he believes that relationship will help them to break down barriers to integrating health and social care services.

He said: “These barriers don’t serve anybody. They don’t help. We have come to the shared understanding of what needs to change.”