A proposed integrated care scheme between City Hospitals Sunderland trust and Church View Medical Practice is not in the best interests of patients, says the NHS Alliance.

It has voiced fears that the trust is more concerned with “capturing the supply chain” than in achieving true integration.

It says that any such merger should focus not just on integrating hospital-based and community care, but also on bringing together all community and primary care services.

NHS Alliance chief executive Michael Sobanja said: “An integrated organisation will not necessarily achieve the delivery of integrated care.

“There is some anecdotal evidence to support this in Northern Ireland, where health and social care services have been the responsibility of a single organisation for over 10 years.”

He said that the focus of such mergers should be on integrated care delivery rather than integrated organisations.

However, although the NHS Alliance believes that mergers between hospitals and practices are unlikely to be in the public interest, he recognised that they might work in some cases.