STRUCTURE: The Cooperation and Competition Panel has accepted the referral of a proposed merger between nine GP practices currently in NHS Sefton’s provider arm and a community health trust.

The panel will complete the first phase of its investigation into the merger with Liverpool Community Health Trust by 27 May. A second phase investigation, if required, will be completed by 25 July.

Under the CCP’s ten principles for cooperation and competition, mergers are permissible when there “remains sufficient choice and competition or where they are otherwise in patients’ and taxpayers’ interests”.

The panel must formally assess all mergers of primary care providers where the turnover of the combined entity is more than £15m.