Two commissioning support units have announced they are planning to merge, in a bid to ensure they are accepted onto NHS England’s procurement framework for support services.

HSJ has learned that Central Midlands CSU – which covers Birmingham and the Black Country – and Staffordshire and Lancashire CSU are in talks over forming a single organisation.

Central Midlands CSU is also planning to make 47 redundancies, amounting to around ten per cent of its workforce. The layoffs will be funded by NHS England.

If the merger proceeds, the resulting support unit will be the largest in England, employing more than 1,000 people – barring any further redundancies.

Managing directors Rob Bacon, of Central Midlands CSU, and Derek Kitchen, of Staffordshire and Lancashire, released a joint statement confirming the news today.

They emphasised that a key reason for the merger was to enable them to be named as a “lead provider” on NHS England’s procurement framework for commissioning support.

The framework has prompted CSUs to begin widespread talks over potential partnerships. So far the only other CSU partnership to be made public is between South London, North West London, and Kent and Medway CSUs.The three are considering a merger.

Today’s joint statement from Central Midlands and Staffordshire and Lancashire said: “Working more closely together will provide excellent services and value for money for our customers and in turn will contribute to us securing lead provider status.

“Together we will be providing services for over 23 clinic al commissioning groups. 

“As a larger organisation we can develop the very best approaches across all these services and deliver the excellent service our customers and their providers demand.”

The CSUs refused to comment on the planned redundancies.

However there is a growing acknowledgment in the commissioning sector it will see further job losses, due to an expected ten per cent cut in CCGs’ running cost allowance, which funds support services.