• County faces some of the toughest healthcare challenges in England
  • Announcement echoes other mergers across East Midlands

Four clinical commissioning groups in Lincolnshire have announced plans to merge in April, amid a wave of similar decisions around the country.

Lincolnshire West, Lincolnshire East, South Lincolnshire and South West Lincolnshire CCGs intend to join under one organisation next year, HSJ has learned.

The Lincolnshire health system has significant financial and workforce challenges, while its major hospital trust faces a third year in special measures.

The CCGs already share an accountable officer, John Turner, who said the merger would help improve local healthcare.

Mr Turner said: “We can confirm that NHS England and Improvement has agreed in principle to the proposed merger of Lincolnshire West, Lincolnshire East, South Lincolnshire and South West Lincolnshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), with a new Lincolnshire CCG to be established with effect from 1 April 2020.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure the new CCG is properly established so it can deliver benefits for people across Lincolnshire.”

CCGs across England must reduce running costs by 20 per cent, which has promoted dozens of planned mergers.

Similar decisions have been made in the past year across the East Midlands.

Commissioners in Nottinghamshire recently announced six of their groups would join up while Derbyshire merged Erewash, Hardwick, North Derbyshire and South Derbyshire CCGs in April.

Leicestershire’s CCGs are yet to decide on a move despite the appointment of a joint chief executive across three of its commissioning groups.

A spokesman for the Leicestershire and Rutland CCGs said: “In October 2019, the governing bodies agreed a more formal network of joint committees and committees in common to allow for greater alignment between the organisations, reduce duplication and support effective decision making.

“No decisions have yet been taken as to the future form of the three clinical commissioning groups in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, although dialogue is taking place about this.”

Other recent merger announcements have been made in Norfolk, Kent and Medway, South West London and South East London.

At least 55 groups have made merger applications to NHS England. In July HSJ identified 86 CCGs proposing to merge in 2020. GPs rejected some of these proposals while other decisions were pushed back by a year.

A spokesman for John Turner declined an invitation for further comment.