BLOG: Health and Life Sciences in Greater Manchester and the Impact of Devolution

Greater Manchester (GM) is fast emerging as a global hub for the life sciences sector, healthcare innovation and clinical research. The number of bioscience companies operating in the region has grown by 86% over the past ten years, representing a combined GVA (Gross Value Added) of £4 billion. Fuelled partly by its impressive collection of large, research-intensive universities, GM offers one of the largest clusters of NHS organisations and patient recruitment programmes for clinical research in the UK. The region is also home to some 13,000 health and life sciences graduates and over 157,000 health and social care workers.

These strengths are made effective through extensive collaboration and cooperation across sectors, companies and organisations. This is actively facilitated by local government and dedicated organisations such as: TRUSTECH, the GM Academic Health Science Network (GM AHSN), Corridor Manchester, Manchester Science Partnerships, the Manchester Growth Company and the Northern Health Science Alliance. TRUSTECH operates within this system, continuing to bridge the gap between NHS Providers/Commissioners and the commercial, academic and international healthcare sectors.

In September 2015, a new partnership – Health Innovation Manchester (HInM) – was launched at NHS Expo to speed up the discovery, development and delivery of innovative solutions which could improve the health of the people of Greater Manchester. The core delivery teams of this partnership will initially be the GM AHSN and the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC). Together, they will promote deeper collaboration between universities, research bodies, NHS Trusts, life sciences companies and local government. Through this platform, HInM will drive innovations in health and social care and support economic growth.

GM is also currently experiencing the most significant change to local government in a generation. Andy Burnham has been elected as the first Mayor of Greater Manchester and the GM Health and Social Care Partnership now has direct control of the £6bn regional health and social care budget. The partnership, in collaboration with clinical commissioning groups, will allocate spending in response to healthcare priorities. It is difficult to accurately predict the consequences of this change for healthcare in the region, but overall it needs to deliver a sustainable NHS for Greater Manchester that delivers significant improvement in health and wellbeing.

Devolution means that for the first time, local policy decisions on spending can now be aligned with spending on other areas that affect health, i.e. education, skills, transport and housing. Devolution provides local government with the opportunity to start effectively tackling the long-term underlying causes of regional ill health. With local health and life science companies now forming such a significant part of the region’s GDP, it is likely the elected Mayor will play a central role in promoting and securing investment for GM, from both national and international sources. Further benefits will likely include a simpler engagement process for companies seeking to develop or work with the GM health economy. This can only be good news for the region and the companies and organisations working within it.

With life expectancy rates in the most deprived areas of Greater Manchester being ten years below those of the most affluent, the benefits of devolution, healthcare research and the continued growth of the health and life science sector are far-reaching. Likewise, the opportunities which may arise from this fundamental new change in local government are significant. TRUSTECH will continue to play a central role in facilitating collaboration and cooperation between the NHS and the local health and life science economy to maximise this potential.

 

Dr Richard Deed, Technology Director, TRUSTECH

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