Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has confirmed Sir Richard Leese as chair of the new Integrated Care Board ahead of NHS legislation which will take effect in April 2022.

Greater Manchester was England's first integrated care system and the new board will look to play a key role in a preventative, longer-term approach to wellbeing.

Sir Richard has led Manchester City Council for 25 years but is stepping down in December. During that time, he has also chaired the Partnership since March 2020, chaired Manchester’s Health and Wellbeing board in the early 2000s and was chair of Manchester, Salford, and Trafford Health Action Zone, which brought together partners to tackle health inequalities.

Speaking on his new appointment, Sir Richard said: "I am really pleased to have been confirmed as chair-designate of the Integrated Care Board for Greater Manchester and look forward to building on our strong track record of partnership working to deliver for our 2.8 million residents.

"Our vision has always been to improve people’s health and wellbeing – physical and mental, and to make our city region a great place to grow up, get on and get old."

Previously a teacher and a youth worker, Sir Richard is now working with the team to draw up a five-year plan as they look to address the causes of poor health, which he says include debt, poverty, housing, relationships and work. The pandemic both exposed and worsened health problems and inequalities throughout the country and Sir Richard is determined in leading a strong rebound in Manchester.

He said: "Covid tragically exposed just how vulnerable many of our communities in Greater Manchester were to getting the virus and suffering more from it.

"As the country tentatively starts to recover from Covid and our public sector services face unprecedented demand across all areas, we must now use the opportunities these new ways of working present to take a bigger and more active role in addressing inequalities."

More information on the Integrated Care Board is to come soon, with recruiting a chief officer being the next step.

Sir Richard Leese has led Manchester City Council for 25 years (Image: Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership).

Sir Richard Leese has led Manchester City Council for 25 years (Image: Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership).