• Three East Midlands CCGs will press ahead with a joint accountable officer despite previous concerns
  • They will mull the “merits” of a merger from early next year

Three East Midlands clinical commissioning groups have decided to appoint a single accountable officer and management team, and will consider a full merger next year.

Earlier this year, proposals by the three CCGs in Leicestershire and Rutland stalled due to concerns about the ability of a single AO to meet the needs of different patients.

In a joint governing board paper, the chief executives of Leicester City, West Leicestershire, and East Leicestershire and Rutland CCGs said that, after months of deliberation, they had now decided to “move to a single accountable officer and shared management team”.

The papers also said a review of the “relative merits of a merger” would take place in early 2019, with an “options appraisal” to the three boards in mid-2019.

However, the CCGs in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland – which make up the area’s sustainability and transformation partnership – have all taken the view that a shared management team will ensure “current challenges are managed and system transformation is resourced”.

The three chief executives said senior staff who work with the current arrangements are “frustrated” by the time it takes to get decisions made across the three organisations and more capacity needs to be freed up to work on transformation across the STP.

They added a “single commissioner voice” in the leadership of the STP would “enable CCGs to exert more authority”.

The three leaders warned that, if they could not agree on the proposals, NHS England could impose leadership change.

The CCGs also acknowledged that a joint AO would lead to a “reduction in duplication and potentially reduce running costs”.

Azhar Farooqi, clinical chair of Leicester City CCG, said: “We have a long history of collaboration across LLR and this represents the next logical step. It gives us the opportunity to provide more clarity to providers and freeing up people that can drive the kind of system transformation that we need.”

Ursula Montgomery, clinical chair of East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG, added: “I have already seen some great examples of collaboration and innovation in practice between our CCGs. I am confident that this move will help us to build upon those as we increasingly work in a more aligned and collaborative way than ever before.”

Recruitment for the new accountable officer will start subject to the outcome of a consultation with affected individuals, the CCGs said.