STRUCTURE: The first new clinical commissioning group formed as a result of a merger comes into operation today.

Newcastle Gateshead CCG is made up of Gateshead, Newcastle North and East, and Newcastle West CCGs.

The groups said they have joined forces to make “more efficient use of resources”.

NHS England director of commission operations Mike Prentice formally approved the merger.

HSJ revealed the plans of Gateshead, Newcastle North and East and Newcastle West CCGs in February last year.

The groups have been working closely in an alliance since they were established and already share senior staff. In total they have 67 member GP practices.

Chris Long, director of the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team at NHS England, said: “We felt that the three CCGs made a strong case for how a merger would improve patient care. These are already high performing organisations and this move will significantly improve their ability to commission.”