• North East and Cumbria leaders are in talks over merging three STPs
  • The move, if approved, would create the largest STP in the country

Health leaders are in discussions over merging three northern sustainability and transformation partnerships to create the largest in the country, HSJ can reveal.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and North Durham STP; Durham, Darlington, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby STP; and West, North and East Cumbria STP already have a number of shared work programmes.

But senior sources across the region have told HSJ that discussions have been held over merging the three STPs into a single footprint.

HSJ understands discussions are in the early stages and no decision has been made.

It would create the largest STP in the country, covering a population of 3.2m people, larger than the Greater Manchester STP that has a population of 2.8m.

HSJ understands it is unclear what formal process STPs will have to go through to have the merger completed, or who has to approve it.

The STPs have a number of shared work programmes, including the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network vanguard, regional QIPP and medicines optimisation groups, and joint commissioning arrangements for ambulance services.

West, north and east Cumbria is currently the smallest STP. The local system has recently come out of the “success regime”.

The region’s 12 clinical commissioning groups are forming a joint commissioning committee with delegated decision making powers, which is due to meet for the first time later this year.

Each CCG will be represented by their chair and accountable officer at its four meetings a year. The 12 CCGs are:

  • Darlington
  • Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield
  • Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby
  • Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees
  • Newcastle Gateshead
  • North Cumbria
  • North Durham
  • Northumberland
  • North Tyneside
  • South Tees
  • South Tyneside
  • Sunderland

Each of the regions has its own plan for introducing new care models, but HSJ understands these could sit within an accountable care system across the three STPs.

These include:

  • the Northumberland accountable care organisation – due to go live in April next year
  • Better Together Sunderland multispecialty community provider
  • a west, north and east Cumbria accountable care organisation
  • the “paused” North Tyneside ACO

In a statement, a spokeswoman for STP leaders in the north east and north Cumbria said: ”Across the three STPs covering north Cumbria and the north east, there are a number of common priorities.

“Local NHS leaders are looking at ways to coordinate the necessary change and improvement, while ensuring plans are implemented working with local partners reflecting needs of individual communities. This includes continuing to work closely with each council, to deliver on existing priorities.”

This story was updated at 11am on Thursday, 14 September, to amend that the statement was from north east and north Cumbria STP leaders and not NHS England as HSJ was first informed.