Outgoing council leader appointed as chairman of new health organisation

A key political figure in the North West has been appointed as the chairman of a new health organisation for Greater Manchester.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 3:36 pm
Sir Richard Leese

Sir Richard Leese has been confirmed by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership as chairman of its new integrated care board, ahead of NHS legislation which will take effect from April.

He has been leader of Manchester City Council for 25 years but has already announced he will be stepping down in December.

Greater Manchester had England’s first integrated care system, with its unique devolution arrangements, and has been instrumental in shaping new national partnerships to support local health and care needs.

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The new board will play a key role in a preventative, longer-term approach to well-being and set a bold vision for the next five years.

Sir Richard was one of the signatories to the city-region’s health devolution deal with Government in 2015, which meant Greater Manchester took charge of the £6bn spent annually on health and care.

He has chaired the partnership since March 2020 and is currently the portfolio holder for health and care for Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

He has also chaired Manchester’s health and well-being board, which plans health and social care services for the city, and in the early 2000s he was chairman of Manchester, Salford and Trafford Health Action Zone, which worked to tackle health inequalities.

Sir Richard, who was previously a teacher and a youth worker, said: “I am really pleased to have been confirmed as chair-designate of the integrated care board for Greater Manchester and look forward to building on our strong track record of partnership working to deliver for our 2.8 million residents. We have achieved much through voluntary and collaborative working, not least a shared vision; but legal reform will help break down structural barriers to progress and promote true joined up working.

“Health in Greater Manchester could and should be better. Debt, poverty, housing, relationships and work are often the root causes of poor health in Greater Manchester, and we must work together to tackle these causes of ill-health. Covid tragically exposed just how vulnerable many of our communities in Greater Manchester were to getting the virus and suffering more from it.

“As the country tentatively starts to recover from Covid and our public sector services face unprecedented demand across all areas, we must now use the opportunities these new ways of working present to take a bigger and more active role in addressing inequalities. We will strengthen our working with local communities, including the voluntary sector, making us all partners in shaping services. We will continue to keep our workforce centre stage, supporting them and helping them to work together to provide joined up care in the interests of the public.

“Our vision has always been to improve people’s health and well-being – physical and mental - and to make our city region a great place to grow up, get on and get old. Whilst we have made good strides in many areas, such as improved school readiness and reduced mortality from killer diseases, we know that we’ve further to go in other areas and are determined to renew our focus. We are now developing our next ambitious five-year plan and I am confident we can continue to make great progress together.”

He added: "NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin, and we will work closely with the Government to design a meaningful long-term plan for social care, with sustainable funding – as also required by the NHS.”

The appointment was made by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

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