STRUCTURE: Clinical commissioning groups in the North East and Cumbria have formed a collaborative group for joint contracting, system leadership and sharing expertise.

The Northern Clinical Commissioning Collaborative includes all 13 CCGs in that patch. It is chaired by Northumberland CCG chief clinical officer Alistair Blair.

A memorandum of understanding for the group, published in CCG governing body papers, describes a wide range of issues it will cover.

It states: “The collaborative mechanism is primarily for the purpose of collective decision making on commissioning issues and management collectively of [foundation trust] contracts across the North East and Cumbria.

“It will enable clinical and senior management leaders to make decisions about clinical services across the areas served by the member CCGs, with reference to each CCGs governing body where that is required.”

The document said it would see the CCGs “sharing agreed commissioning intentions and identifying common areas of approach with the aim of improving the quality of services”.

The group is also aimed at making it easier for CCGs to communicate with the two NHS England local area teams which cover the patch. They are the Durham, Darlington and Tees area team, and another covering the rest of the north east and Cumbria.

The move involves no formal transfer of powers from the CCGs to the collaborative.

However, the memorandum says it will also involve “development and adoption of service redesign and best clinical practice across the area – which may include the continuation of local clinical networks in addition to those nationally established”.

The collaborative will also “work with [area teams] on system management and resilience” and on “mutual support and aid in organisational development”.

London CCGs have formed a “clinical commissioning council”, but no other regions are known to have such groups.