• West Birmingham GPs reject plan to join Birmingham and Solihull CCG in favour of status quo
  • Decision comes despite warnings change needed to avert “disaster”
  • Paves way for Sandwell and West Birmingham to join Black Country CCG merger

Sandwell and West Birmingham GPs have rejected a proposal to break-up their clinical commissioning group, despite the city’s local medical committee saying a vote against the split would be a “disaster”.

Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG confirmed on Wednesday that 70 per cent of its GP members had voted against dissolving the CCG and in favour of remaining part of Black Country and West Birmingham Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.

The rejected proposal would have meant West Birmingham GPs would join the Birmingham and Solihull CCG, while Sandwell GPs would join a newly merged Black Country CCG. Retaining the status quo means it is likely Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG will merge with other Black Country CCGs, although this would require a further vote.

Birmingham City Council, Birmingham LMC, and Birmingham and Solihull CCG and STP have all backed splitting the CCG boundaries, amid concerns that West Birmingham had become disconnected from the rest of the city.

 Before the vote, the council said retaining the status quo was “storing up serious problems in the future” and the LMC said the option GPs have now chosen would be a “disaster for West Birmingham GPs”.

However, the split was opposed by both the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and hospital trust. The hospital trust said before the vote that changing commissioning boundaries would have “financial consequences”, and “imperil” construction work on its new £475m hospital, already delayed by Carillion’s collapse.

A paper that went to the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG on Wednesday said the vote would “give the CCG the best footing for moving forward and complement its current investments in primary care and Midland Metropolitan Hospital”.

It said: “However, this option still leaves open the need to align STP boundaries to its patient population and the detailed consideration on the anticipated merger of the Black Country CCGs.”

Responding after the vote, Birmingham LMC chair Bob Morley said: “Birmingham LMC will continue to represent and support all GP practices in the city but inevitably this will be considerably more difficult if West Birmingham GP contracts are to be administered by a remote Black Country commissioner rather than from within Birmingham.”

Birmingham and Solihull CCG and STP leader, Paul Jennings, said: “All member organisations of the Birmingham and Solihull STP were unanimous in their view that the Birmingham constituencies of Ladywood and Perry Barr should be coterminous with the local authority, CCG and STP.

“Therefore, it is disappointing that we remain in a situation were a large number of Birmingham patients remain outside of the natural and logical geographical boundary and will be receiving inconsistent services to their 1.3 million neighbours in the rest of Birmingham and Solihull.”

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust chairman Richard Samuda said: “We welcome the clear and decisive decision by local primary care leaders to retain the integrity of the Integrated Care model that we have been building for some years in the two places covered by the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG… The CCG process has clearly given all stakeholders a chance to express their views and we now need to move forward on a shared basis.”

The story was updated to include comments from Mr Jennings on 27 June.