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Healthcare devolution: A 'poisoned chalice' for councils?

Experts have voiced concerns over the potential risks - both financial and in terms of quality of care - in proposals to give councils in Greater Manchester full control over the region's health budget.

Richard Humphries, assistant director of the King's Fund think tank, said the changes - on the "nuclear end" of the spectrum - could turn out to be a "poisoned chalice" for local authorities.

Depending on the detail - and the detail is really crucial and we don't have that yet - you could either see this as a triumph for local democracy or creating real risks of yet another reorganisation of the NHS when it's barely recovered from the last one.

If the plan is to give the money to local government, the words 'chalice' and 'poisoned' perhaps spring to mind.

– Richard Humphries, King's Fund

Devolving health budgets 'will create postcode lottery'

Handing over healthcare budgets to local councils risks creating a postcode lottery for patients, with differing priorities and levels of care between different regions, critics have warned.

It comes after surprise government plans emerged to hand Greater Manchester councils responsibility for its entire £6 billion NHS budget.

Ukip health spokeswoman Louise Bours said the plans could be 'disastrous' Credit: PA

Ukip health spokeswoman Louise Bours said the plans opened the door for councillors to use the money for political purposes rather than for the good of the local population.

What the Tories are proposing for Manchester is a recipe for yet another disastrous postcode lottery in the health system.

What qualifications do they have for this role? Who will be accountable? Who can we blame when it all goes wrong?

It will simply lead to the kind of unfairness we have already seen in the Scottish system, when residents there get free prescriptions for instance, while the rest of the country does not.

– Louise Bours, Ukip

Osborne: Manchester NHS plan 'very exciting'

George Osborne has confirmed the Government is "discussing a plan" to give Greater Manchester control over its entire NHS budget.

The Chancellor called it "a very exciting development", saying: "We have a National Health Service, but we also want to have people in Manchester having greater control over their own affairs."

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Police in Manchester search for motorbike gunmen

Police appealed to the public for help in catching two gunmen on a motorbike. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Archive

Two gun-wielding motorcyclists reportedly seen firing at a van are being sought by Greater Manchester police.

Officers appealed for witnesses to come forward with information about the shooting, which took place in Salford at around 5.50pm yesterday.

The two men were riding an orange motorbike and fired a handgun at a white van before both they fled the scene at the junction of Lower Broughton Road and Frederick Street.

Police said they had no reports anybody had been injured.

Detective Inspector Kenny Blain said: "We are at the early stages of our inquiries and don't yet know if anybody was hurt. I would urge you to come forward if you were injured or involved in this incident.

"The local community will understandably be concerned by this incident and I want to reassure residents that we have an increased police presence in the area.

"If you have any information that would be useful to the investigation than please come forward and speak to us."

Technical fault brings down 999 lines in Manchester

A technical fault has brought down emergency phone lines at Greater Manchester Police, sparking a warning to people to only dial 999 in life-threatening or dangerous situations.

BT engineers are currently investigating alongside the force's own technical team to try to resolve the issue.

A spokesman for the force said there was a back-up system in place to allow 999 calls through, but said the fault meant capacity was reduced.

He said there "should not be" a problem for people in real emergencies getting through, but urged callers to be sensible.

That is why we are stressing to people to only use the 999 number in real emergencies, so we can make sure those really important calls can get through.

– Greater Manchester Police spokesman

UPDATE: Police say the issue has now been resolved and normal service has resumed.

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