STRUCTURE: The primary care trust cluster’s board has heard a proposal to save £1.06m by merging two shared services organisations to create a single family services agency for Cheshire and Merseyside.

A paper, put to the board on 7 September by cluster finance director Simon Holden, said the proposal to combine Central Operations Mersey and Cheshire Health Agency would reduce costs, standardise services, and provide a “platform for future development”.

It said currently the total cost of the two operations was currently £5.36m a year, with a headcount of 70.18 whole time equivalents in Mersey, and 57 in Cheshire. It estimated that a combined organisation would cost £4.30m, and employ just 104 whole time equivalents.

It added that the estimated savings assumed the implementation of a Voluntary Redundancy / Retirement scheme across the Merseyside Cluster; reduced accommodation costs associated with the reduction in numbers of staff in Liverpool; and the realisation of efficiency saving measures implemented by both existing organisations since 2010.

And it noted: “It should be noted that this proposal represents an opportunity which can be acted upon now without the need to enter into third party negotiation and, furthermore, can be seen both as a final solution in itself and/or as a ‘first step’ towards the vision of a wider service provision footprint.”

The shared service organisations’ provide administrative support work including managing the process of patient registration with GP practices, the transfer and archiving of medical records, and making payments to GPs, dentists, pharmacists and opticians.