NHS England has laid the ground work for talks to begin over the largest ever merging of clinical commissioning groups.
Liverpool, South Sefton and Southport and Formby CCGs, all located in Merseyside, will begin formal talks on the matter in April.
The plans to merge have been on the table for some time, but NHS England has finally given the green light to the arrangement.
It is hoped that the three organisations will be able to form a super-sized clinical commissioning group at some point during the 2018 calendar year.
The new combined organisation will be handed the largest budget of any clinical commissioning group in the country.
Band allocations for 2018/19 indicate that £1.2 billion will be set aside for the new Merseyside-based organisation.
This would be slightly more than the planned allocation for Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG.
The nature of the three clinical commissioning groups follows a similar arrangement conducted in Manchester.
Three groups also managed to produce a larger organisation in the city neighbouring Liverpool, and such arrangements are expected to become more prevalent and prominent in the future.
With regard to the new Merseyside partnership, the clinical commissioning groups in question already worked together on a regular basis.
There has been a particular collaboration on the north Mersey element of the Cheshire and Merseyside sustainability and transformation plan.
NHS England and the CCGs’ member GP practices must formally approve a merger before anything can be put in place, but talks will begin next month with the intention of hammering out an agreement.
A paper set to be put before Liverpool CCG’s governing body later this week outlines the benefits of this new organisation, suggesting that it will hugely benefit healthcare in the region.
“Local system delivery plans are describing hugely ambitious programmes of change, which will require strong clinical leadership from commissioners as well as providers. By combining our existing CCG skills and resources, we will arguably strengthen our commissioning capacity and capability to deliver the ambitious transformational programmes. As a bigger commissioning organisation we will more closely mirror the form of our providers and the populations they serve, as they continue their active discussions to merge.”
The paper went on to explain that the move had been initiated following guidance and discussion with NHS England.
“NHS England clearly recognises the appetite amongst some CCGs to come together to more effectively address the growing challenges being faced across health and social care. In acknowledgement of this, NHS England for the first time issued guidance in November 2016 around CCG mergers, paving the way for this to happen.”
The Liverpool and Birkenhead metropolitan region had a population of over 2.2 million people according to the 2001 census, although this figure is expected to have increased somewhat since this survey was conducted.