• West Midlands CCGs to share governing committee by April
  • Groups already share senior leadership
  • They will consider full merger by 2019 at another time

Three West Midlands clinical commissioning groups will hold their governing body meetings together and share the majority of their members ahead of a possible merger in 2019.

South Worcestershire, Wyre Forest, and Redditch and Bromsgrove CCGs will take a proposal to GP members later this month to have the CCGs “meet in common”, effectively as a single board, by April.

A report to the CCG boards last month revealed the separate boards would retain separate GP representatives, but all other board members, including executives and lay people, would be held in common.

The CGGs appointed a joint executive team earlier this year, run all major committees jointly and share financial risk.

Accountable officer Simon Trickett, who started in August, told HSJ the proposed arrangement was effectively akin to a merger.

However, any formal transition to a single organisation would be considered separately next year, with a view to possibly merging in 2019.

“We are trying to do it from the bottom up,” he said.

“There will be a conversation on a merger but we can get the benefits of a merger now without going through the same bureaucratic process.”

The restructure would lead to least £500,000 of recurrent annual savings on running costs, the report said.

The three CCGs are in the same sustainability and transformation partnership, alongside Herefordshire CCG, covering a large, mostly rural area of the West Midlands.

Part of the STP plan includes treating more patients at home and reducing the overall number of acute beds.

While the STP is well rated and the three CCGs together are forecasting to meet their financial control total for 2017-18, Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG is rated inadequate and reporting a deficit.

Worcestershire Acute Trust, the area’s only acute provider, is also grappling with financial and performance challenges, particularly in urgent care.