• North west London CCGs proposal to merge by April 2020 dropped from STP restructure plans
  • Patch will now plan for April 2021 merger using the extra year to resolve financial challenges

A second London health system has opted to delay plans to merge its clinical commissioning groups into a single organisation.

North west London’s eight CCGs put forward a draft timeline in May to merge by April 2020, a year ahead of the deadline to form an integrated care system.

But, late in August, the CCGs dropped this part of their merger proposal, putting their target back to April 2021. This decision followed a three-month engagement exercise with the CCG members, local government, and patient groups.

The north east London health system has also opted to merge its CCGs by April 2021.

South east and south west London are merging their CCGs by April 2020. South east London has already been designated as an ICS by NHS England, the first ICS in the capital.

A spokesperson from the north west London collaboration of CCGs, the health system’s joint commissioning committee, said: “We have always said that the merger would take place in April 2020 or April 2021.

“After listening to feedback from patients, staff, and others it was agreed that it would be sensible to take a little more time and make sure the merger is a success and that we are not distracted from other important issues like our financial recovery.”

The eight CCGs’ shared accountable officer, Mark Easton, said in a letter that the CCGs would use 2020-21 as a “transitional year” to allow it to focus on several key challenges including its financial recovery plan.

North west London is one of the most financially challenged health systems in England. It is budgeting to end this year with a deficit of £51m, against a control total of £21.5m.

The eight CCGs of north west London cover a population of 2.2 million and have a combined financial allocation this year of £2.9bn. They would make the largest single CCG on both counts were they to merge.

A NHS in London spokesperson said: “The NHS long-term plan sets out that CCGs will form an ICS which enables local decision making to ensure the best outcomes for patients. Decisions are being made at a local level, with all CCGs being supported to develop into an ICS for 2021.”

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