STRUCTURE: A proposal by three clinical commissioning groups in the north east to merge has been approved by NHS England.

HSJ revealed the plans of Gateshead, Newcastle North and East and Newcastle West CCGs in February.

Merger proposals have to be checked and approved by NHS England. This has now taken place, it was announced yesterday, and the groups will merge in April next year.

The groups have been working closely in an alliance since they were established and already share senior staff. In total they have 67 member GP practices.

Mark Adams, chief officer of all three, said in a statement: “We needed to make sure that the three CCGs could continue to make the most of the advantages of working together and ensure that we are best placed to meet our operational challenges and deliver improvements in outcomes for patients as efficiently and effectively as possible. Merging will help ensure we can do that.

He added: “We were very pleased indeed to receive feedback from the NHS England panel visit which highlighted that all three CCGs were performing well and that by moving to a new merged organisation we had an even greater potential to do more for public and patients.”

NHS England area director for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear said: “We felt that the three CCGs made a strong case for how a merger would improve patient care. 

“These are already high-performing organisations and this move will significantly improve their ability to commission care on behalf of the people of Newcastle and Gateshead.”