• Leeds’ three CCGs agree to appoint a single joint accountable officer
  • Leeds West CCG accountable officer will head a new joint commissioning board for the organisations
  • The board will be written into the constitutions of Leeds South and East, Leeds North and Leeds West CCGs as a decision making body

Three clinical commissioning groups have agreed to appoint a single chief executive and set up a joint board, HSJ can reveal.

Leeds South and East, Leeds West and Leeds North CCGs will have one leader from next month, and a new joint strategic commissioning board from May.

It will be one of the biggest commissioning bodies in the country, covering a population of 860,000 with an allocation of more than £1bn.

HSJ revealed in November that the CCGs were exploring shared leadership arrangements as well as plans to set up a new accountable care organisation.

Leeds West CCG chief executive Philomena Corrigan will head up the three organisations, which will remain as independent statutory bodies.

Ms Corrigan said they have not ruled out the possibility of a full merger in future.

She said: “We are going to do this first stage, then by September we are going to be in a position to see what the next step will be.”

HSJ understands the CCGs could merge into one organisation, or form a single health and social care commissioning body with the city council, but talks are still at a very early stage and no decisions have been made.

The new Leeds health commissioning and system integration board will be written into each CCG’s constitution so it can act as a decision making body, but these changes still have to be signed off by NHS England.

Leeds South and East chief clinical officer Andy Harris will leave his role at the CCG, while Leeds North accountable officer Nigel Grey will become chief officer for system integration across the three groups.

The new board will have a rotating chair, with Leeds South and East chair Philip Lewer taking up the post until September.

Ms Corrigan said although the CCGs cannot legally pool budgets, the new joint management structure will allow them to use resources more effectively.

She added: “The primary reason for doing this is we recognise commissioning needs to change.

“The driver is we are moving towards population health management and do not think the current [management] form helps us achieve that.”

Although the CCGs have not quantified what savings the new management structure might achieve, Ms Corrigan said it will allow them to invest more resources into the sustainability and transformation plans and primary care infrastructure,

She added: “We are trying to reduce triplication, waste and be more efficient and focused on strategic commissioning.”

Plans include moving as many parts of the three CCGs into one office and potentially co-locating with Leeds city council.

The existing boards of each CCG will still legally have to meet twice a year to agree their operational plans, financial strategies and hold an annual general meeting.

A spokesperson for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber said: “NHS England has been involved in discussions with CCGs in Leeds about their proposals to create a single joint leadership team to ensure the changes are being done to improve commissioning of services for the people of Leeds, and that CCGs comply with required legislation and make any appropriate amendments to their governance arrangements.”