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A new academic paper published today shows life expectancy in Greater Manchester rose faster than in comparable areas between 2016 and 2019 when the city-region took control of its health and care spending in a ‘devolution deal’ with Government.

  • New study points to increase in life expectancy following devolution
  • Academic paper suggests partnership working positively influenced health outcomes
  • New partnership is building on this progress to drive further change

A new academic paper published today shows life expectancy in Greater Manchester rose faster than in comparable areas between 2016 and 2019 when the city-region took control of its health and care spending in a ‘devolution deal’ with Government.

The research, undertaken by the University of Manchester, shows gains in eight of ten local areas of 0.2 years higher than expected in comparison to trends seen prior to the devolution agreement.* The rise was higher for males, and larger in areas with low income.

With improvements believed to be in part due to the opportunities of wider partnerships and closer system working across the public and voluntary sector, Greater Manchester’s model has been integral to shaping new national integrated care systems, which launched in July to support local health and care.

The paper, published in the Lancet Public Health, covers the period of work delivered from a ground-breaking plan published in 2015: ‘Taking Charge of Health and Social Care in Greater Manchester’. This set out the collective ambition for the city-region to support people to improve their health and wellbeing and help people lead longer, healthier, happier lives

In addition, Greater Manchester was given its share of national transformation funding up front (£450m) by NHS England. This was used to drive change including on initiatives around stopping smoking, helping young people with their mental health, increasing physical activity, supporting people who were unemployed long-term into work and developing social prescribing across GP practices. This also funded work in the ten areas of Greater Manchester setting up integrated neighbourhood teams to join up ways of working together.

Sir Richard Leese, former leader of Manchester City Council, was one of the signatories to the city-region’s health devolution deal with Government in 2015, he held the health and care portfolio lead for Greater Manchester Combined Authority from March 2020 and now chairs NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board. He said:

“We are delighted that our work in Greater Manchester in improving people’s health has been recognised; and that the value we place on our relationships and strong system working has been acknowledged in this report. Whilst the gains are small, changes in life expectancy are typically slow to achieve and shaped by a range of factors.

“It shouldn’t be right that the length of time you live in good health depends on where you are born. We’ve got much more to do to improve people’s health and wellbeing, and create a healthier, fairer, more equal society. This paper recognises that success in the NHS is dependent on greater collaboration with partners such as local government, the voluntary sector and citizens.

“Our ten local areas started at different points so it is expected that progress will be made at different rates, and we are encouraged that our approach bringing together health and other public services is having a positive impact. We will continue to invest in and grow our population health approach, working with local areas to do so. The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the poorest in our society and work to turn the tide on inequalities is more important than ever.”

The new integrated care system in Greater Manchester launched in July. It is made up of an integrated care partnership responsible for the wider determinants of health, overseen by a statutory committee; a new NHS organisation called NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, responsible for planning services, finance and performance and overseen by a statutory integrated care board; and ten place-based partnerships.

Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership has already run a ‘Big Conversation’ to help shape the future of health and care and involve the public in its plans. Feedback from this will help further set priorities for a new health and care strategy expected to be published by winter.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said:

“This is a clear indication that the devolution of powers to a local level is delivering better outcomes for people and is helping to improve their health.

“I believe this is all about us having the freedom to do things differently, in a way we know works and centres around what’s best for people here. With the powers and resources, we now have, we’re able to better join public services, including health and social care, together across the whole of Greater Manchester as part of one team that’s more efficient and effective.

“We are in discussions with Government about Greater Manchester having more devolution of powers and I will continue to make that case because we know it’s working, we know we’re delivering, and the evidence supports it. I’m proud of what we’ve started to deliver, but I know we can go even further.”

Since July, NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care has launched a Green Plan committing to playing its part in tackling climate change and the city-region has joined an ambitious global network, receiving funding to develop work in creating smoke free spaces.


* There was an increase in life expectancy in Oldham. However, the change was smaller than the other local authorities and not statistically significant.

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