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Greater Manchester hails cloud as key to delivery of devolved health and social care in region

Having taken back control from the government for running its own health and social care budgets, The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care (GMHSC) Partnership is now in the throes of establishing what role cloud will play in its work

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care (GMHSC) partnership is undergoing a review of its IT estate, in the hope that moving parts of its infrastructure to the cloud will save it money and support its devolution strategy.

The organisation has spent the last few years relinquishing control from the government for managing the health and social care budgets of the entire Greater Manchester area, since signing a devolution pact in February 2015.

On the back of that decision, the partnership officially took over responsibility for managing the region’s £6bn health and social care budget in April 2016, as well as a separate £450m five-year fund to help it achieve clinical and financial sustainability by 2021.

One area the partnership is keen to invest in is the establishment of integrated health and care services, and – from an IT perspective – that means embarking on a fact-finding mission to find out what infrastructure is in place across 20 NHS and local government organisations involved in the partnership.

The partnership has enlisted the help of public sector-focused IT consultancy Shaping Cloud to carry out this “asset review”, so the organisation knows exactly what applications are running within these member organisations, and highlight opportunities where cloud use could be increased.

As such, Shaping Cloud said this work will include carrying out an enterprise architecture mapping exercise, which – in turn – will lead to a costed plan detailing the applications and infrastructure components that should move to the cloud.

“Seeing what technology is in use across the public sector should mean the review will pay for itself in procurement efficiencies. However, it is the wider benefits of cloud adoption that are more attractive,” said GMHSC partnership interim chief digital officer Stephen Dobson. “Cloud is coming whether we like it or not. What I want to do is to accelerate the move to the cloud across Greater Manchester. I’m trying to get to the future faster.”

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There are several reasons why Dobson is keen to ramp up the organisation’s use of cloud, including the potential collaboration benefits it can bring for doctors and consultants working across multiple sites in Greater Manchester.

“[If] he or she can access the information and applications they require without the need for getting a new piece of kit, or another laptop belonging to that trust. That’s a huge benefit both for staff and for the patient,” he added.

 “It’s vital that we change how we use technology across our services. We must deliver on this, for the benefit of patients and our health and care workforce.”

Carlos Oliveira, founder and CEO of Shaping Cloud, said the firm’s involvement in the project is proof of its commitment to helping public sector organisations across the region access the latest and greatest in new technologies.

“Our work with the partnership will create a blueprint for a modern IT infrastructure at an organisational, local and regional level. Leveraging the latest technologies, it will allow organisations to collaborate more effectively and be an enabler for the delivery of better services to the people of Greater Manchester,” said Oliveira. 

“We’re fully behind Greater Manchester’s mission to improve the health and wellbeing of every citizen in the region. It’s about people achieving their potential and amplifying Manchester’s position as a world-class city. It’s a big responsibility and one we’re happy to help with.”

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