• Five CCGs propose merging into two
  • Comes amid widespread merger proposals

Five clinical commissioning groups in the north east of England are considering mergers to cut running costs, HSJ has learned.

CCGs in the County Durham and Tees Valley region have launched a public consultation over proposals to create two new CCGs.

The CCGs involved are:

  • Darlington CCG;
  • Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG;
  • Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG;
  • North Durham CCG; and
  • South Tees CCG.

The five CCGs commission services for a population of more than 1.2 million people across three local acute trusts.

In a statement, the CCGs said continuing to operate as five separate bodies may not be feasible alongside demands on commissioners to cut their running costs by 20 per cent.

Under the plans, the five organisations would merge to create one CCG covering Durham (DDES and North Durham) and the other covering Tees Valley (South Tees, Darlington, and Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees).

If approved, the mergers would take effect from April 2020.

Since October last year, the five CCGs have had a single accountable officer, Neil O’Brien, and two chief officers, Stewart Findlay and Nicola Bailey.

The consultation document cites the NHS long-term plan, which indicated there would normally be a single CCG per integrated care system – which would suggest one commissioner for the whole of Cumbria and the North East.

The consultation document said: “Whilst this is intended to support greater efficiency and improve population health by supporting providers to work with local government, we believe that we can achieve more for our local people if we keep a greater level of local focus.”

However, it said: “If we remain as five separate CCGs, and reduce our budget it may not be possible to fulfil all our responsibilities with significantly less staff. Merging the CCGs is a logical next step following our closer working over the last few years.

“Our CCG collaborative work and the management changes we have already made, mean that our CCGs are already in a good position to demonstrate the benefits of working across a larger population base with a shared management resource. Given national expectations and the desire to ensure as much resource as possible is freed up for investment into front line health services, we believe that we should give this serious consideration.”

It comes as many CCGs are considering mergers for April.

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