Every year I do a humorous update on some of the policy issues and trends over the year. (2016, 2015). Given the general level of bleakness (read this if you feeling particularly strong) it seems only reasonable to try a lift the mood a fraction, whilst having a gentle dig at some of the frantic absurdity that surrounds us.
It is now generally acknowledged that the economy is broken especially in the North and even (please whisper) in Manchester. The previous economic orthodoxy to “build shiny new things” and “attract big business” led to some of the worst inequalities in the UK. It is to be replaced or at least slightly amended to something else, but nobody is quite sure what that is. It almost certainly isn’t spending a few £100 million building a new tram line to the Trafford Centre, or taking money away from smaller arts organisations to build a new cultural centre at the Old Granada Studio site. Apparently, this lack of certainty is a good thing, for the first time in 30 years we don’t have an economic model. It’s all up for discussion. Please send your thoughts to What-the-hell-are-we-doing?@economicstrategy.GM
Right across Greater Manchester one can hear the plaintive cries of health and social care planners and commissioners pleading for money from the GM £450 million transformation fund for health and social care. Me, me, me, look at my strategy/project/vague idea. This is the cost benefit analysis that we created that proves (no it doesn’t) that we will save this amount of money in 3 years (no it won’t) and thus save the health and social care system from collapse (if only). The pretence of an open and transparent process for allocation of transformation money in Manchester didn’t last long. It was “transformed” into business as usual, decisions made behind closed doors.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Not in the voluntary sector obviously. However, at least we can rejoice for our health and social care colleagues in all the new jobs being created in the Local Care Organisation and at Greater Manchester level. You ain’t no-one if you don’t have a new title with transformation somewhere in the title or if you’re not part of some new organisation; the single hospital (Manchester Universities Hospitals – at least they’re being honest about their priorities - being a university); single commissioning (Manchester Health and Care Commissioning); single community provider (local care organisation – no name yet but I think it would be a really good idea if they spent a lot of money doing a Manchester wide consultation on what the name should be); and a bigger and better mental health provider (Greater Manchester Mental Health). Excellent progress has been made, everyone has a new email address and a new identity card.
The Manchester Experience
Our Manchester is a philosophy, a way of seeing the world, a strategy, an experience, a set of behaviours, a brand or something like that. I’m definitely for it, unlike the previous sacred cow - public sector reform (let’s not mention the Troubled Families Programme, no really don’t mention it, they’re a bit sensitive about it). Our Manchester can be occasionally, possibly, a tad unclear, what it is and what it isn’t, not to me obviously, but to some other people. It’s going to take a long time and it’s got a lot to do with assets and strengths and being honest and talking to people. Sometimes it feels like tying it down too precisely might actually mean that one could identify some Manchester City Council activities that are definitively NOT Our Manchester.
A Gentleness of GPs
What do you call a collective of GPs? – please send your answers in on a postcard. My thoughts - “a wishfulness”, “a bunfight” or possibly “a monopoly” or ironically “a selflessness”. There are 3 such collectives in Manchester (not counting the Manchester-wide collective of collectives) and it’s not been easy going. Trying to bring together, what is essentially a group of small business people together, many of whom are individualists at heart, without much in the way of organisational skills, with minimal organisational resources, was possibly not a guaranteed recipe for success. Despite the difficulties, it’s great to see GPs getting out and meeting voluntary sector organisations, but let’s be realistic it was never going to work everywhere, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
Happy New Year.