• Norfolk STP lead Melanie Craig becomes accountable officer for its five CCGs
  • Norwich finance chief takes on role across all troubled health economy
  • The five CCGs say single staffing structure will be in place this year

Norfolk and Waveney’s five clinical commissioning groups have appointed a joint chief officer and finance officer across the hugely challenged health economy.

Melanie Craig, who was previously chief officer of Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG as well as executive lead for the Norfolk and Waveney sustainability and transformation partnership, took on the wider role yesterday.

Norwich CCG’s chief finance officer John Ingham also began as joint chief financial officer for the five CCGs, which also include North, South and West Norfolk.

The CCGs plan to have a single commissioning side staff structure in place later this year.

A statement from the five CCGs said they would move towards “one single staff structure which is expected to be in place towards the end of the year”.

The health economy is one of the most under pressure in the English NHS. Three of its providers – Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust, Norfolk and Suffolk FT and Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn Trust – are in quality special measures; which is unique nationally.

HSJ exclusively revealed in November that regional system leaders had identified Norfolk as an area with significant problems

Leaked meeting minutes said NHS England regional director Paul Watson told a risk summit follow-up meeting he “felt there was a need to develop a specific approach to managing issues in Norfolk to mitigate the risks over winter”.

Dr Watson cited a cocktail of reasons for his concerns. They included “ambulance handover delays… [and] the ambulance trust’s capacity shortage; the rurality of the area; staff unrest; issues with 111 delivery; and [that] two of three acute trusts were struggling with [their accident and emergency performance]”.

Ms Craig said in a statement yesterday: “We shall continue to retain our local focus. Our CCGs remain as separate entities – however, one staff team serving all five CCGs will provide greater coherence, consistency and efficiency whilst continuing to focus on important local priorities.”

North and South Norfolk CCGs have already had a shared management team and staffing in place since July 2016.

The chairs of the five CCGs welcomed the appointment, citing Ms Craig’s excellent track record.