• Louise Patten permanently appointed to head up Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire CCGs
  • Has held Oxfordshire role on an interim basis since January 2018
  • New CQC review of Oxfordshire health economy finds improvement in local leaders’ relationships

A single accountable officer has been appointed to two clinical commissioning groups in neighbouring counties.

Louise Patten has been appointed the permanent chief executive of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire CCGs, as of late last year.

She had been heading up Oxfordshire CCG on an interim basis since January 2018, after it failed to find a permanent chief executive when the incumbent, David Smith, retired. She had combined this role with her substantive post as chief executive of Buckinghamshire CCG.

Both CCGs are part of the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West sustainability and transformation partnership. The other CCG in the STP, Berkshire West, continues to be headed up by Cathy Winfield.

Oxfordshire is the only health economy within the STP not to have formally instigated plans to develop as an integrated care system, although HSJ understands it may try to do so by April 2019.

With Ms Patten now head of both CCGs, it is not clear if Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire CCGs or ICS will continue to exist separately in the future.

Her appointment comes at the same time as the Care Quality Commission released its second report into the Oxfordshire health economy.

It found “system leaders had undertaken significant work to reset the culture of their organisations and develop relationships” but the system must “ensure this approach is embedded through the next tiers of management”. 

The regulator said it had seen “practical examples where improved cross-system relationships had improved outcomes for people”, including reducing the number of people who remained in hospital unnecessarily.

However, the CQC said delayed transfers of care “required further work” and the discharge to assess model that was aimed at helping people leave hospital was not “fully embedded”. It also warned DTOC levels remained higher than the national average, with older people with complex needs at “higher risk” of being discharged into nursing care due to a lack of domiciliary home care support available in the region.

It also said there “remained a traditional and transactional approach to market management and the commissioning of services”.

The findings are an improvement on the previous CQC report, released in February 2018, which found “little collaboration between system partners” and a “deep rooted” lack of trust.

Ms Patten said of the CQC review: “This has been a real learning journey for us; the CQC’s system assessment helped us understand the need for a more integrated approach across health and social care that focussed on working together to improve patient outcomes.

“This is, however, work in progress; we continue to develop the different parts of the health and social care system in Oxfordshire to work better together to improve patient care.”