A cluster of three Essex primary care trusts will next week appoint a single chief executive.

Earlier this month NHS Mid Essex, NHS North East Essex and NHS West Essex announced their intention to form a cluster in order to reduce management costs.

Essex transition lead chair David Barron said: “The three PCT chairs for NHS Mid, North East and West Essex have considered applications from two strong candidates for the role of Chief Executive of a north Essex PCT cluster.

“The appointment is currently subject to discussion and likely to be concluded within the next week.”

The move is the latest in a rapid coming together of commissioning organisations in the East of England region, which follows a similar move in North West London revealed in HSJ last week.

NHS South East Essex and NHS South West Essex announced last week they also plan to form a cluster under a single chief executive.

Additionally, NHS North East Essex’s two practice based commissioning clusters agreed last Tuesday to become a single entity, covering 320,000 patients, in order to align themselves with the PCT and ease management support for a future consortium.

NHS Alliance clinical commissioning federation co-lead and Colchester PBC group chief executive Dr Shane Gordon said: “I think we are seeing the actions that indicate PCTs believe the government’s policy intentions will come to pass.

“We’re seeing a rapid removal of deckchairs from the upper echelons of PCTs, followed shortly by rationalisation of their executive teams. That means we have got to start working with GP consortia pretty quickly, otherwise we’re going to lose local sensitivity in the system.”

Another two PCTs in the East of England strategic health authority region - NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough - have shared a chief executive in Dr Paul Zollinger-Read since July.

This week NHS Cambridgeshire launched what it says is the country’s first GP commissioning consortium pilot programme.