A proposal has been put forward by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to create a data-sharing authority, called GM-Connect, to help break down the barriers which stop public services sharing information.
The initiative echoes the recommendations of the Policy Exchange Smart Devolution report published last week which says that data-sharing is vital if cities want greater control over their own destinies.
GM-Connect, it is claimed, will enable improved understanding of the risks, challenges and opportunities in the area – identifying patterns, trends and relationships and helping allocate resources as effectively as possible.
The information gleaned will also support the area’s integration of health and social care and wider reform of public services to ensure they are better connected and more effective, while at the same time avoiding people having to give the same information repeatedly to public services.
GM-Connect will also be used to ensure Greater Manchester is safeguarding the information it holds and only using it appropriately. An executive board consisting of senior representatives from councils, health providers and other Greater Manchester public services will oversee its work. GM-Connect would initially have four full-time staff, led by a Greater Manchester chief information officer.
The GMCA’s Executive will be asked to approve the establishment of GM-Connect, using £500,000 from a £4m pot awarded by the Government to support innovative data-sharing, when it meets on Friday 29 January.
One example cited in the report, from outside Greater Manchester, is the case of someone who had to explain her father’s circumstances to 10 different agencies after he had a hip operation – but still had to arrange a wheelchair, bath aids and injection appointments herself because the different services had not shared the information with each other. GM-Connect will aim to ensure such situations become a thing of the past.
Tony Lloyd, interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Improved data sharing is essential to successfully transforming public services in Greater Manchester and ensuring they are better integrated.
“It will enable us to build up a clearer and more detailed picture of what’s happening across the area so we can target our resources as effectively as possible, as well as helping us to identify the people most in need of support. This includes reducing the costs of public services in a sustainable way by addressing issues, for example potential poor health, before they become expensive problems.”
Planning for the service has drawn on lessons from international best practice including New York, Canada and Estonia where shared data has been used to improve services.