CHESHIRE’s four clinical commissioning groups who are responsible for buying healthcare are to merge into one following a ballot from GP members.
The decision was revealed at a joint meeting of NHS Vale Royal, South Cheshire, Eastern Cheshire and West Cheshire clinical commissioning groups in Middlewich.
It was agreed that the application to merge the CCGs from April 2020 will now be submitted to NHS England on Monday, with the outcome expected in October.
The voting process was independently verified by the Local Medical Committee, with 86 per cent of the total ballots returned voting in favour of a single Cheshire CCG.
NHS Eastern Cheshire voted 95 per cent in favour of the merger, with only one practice in opposition.
Likewise, NHS South Cheshire voted 13 to one in favour of the proposal.
NHS Vale Royal provided the highest proportion of opposition to the merger, with seven votes in support of a single Cheshire CCG and four against.
A further four ‘no’ votes were delivered by practices in NHS West Cheshire, with 28 voting in favour.
The overall voting turnout was 95 per cent, of which 86 per cent of returned ballots were in favour of a single CCG for Cheshire.
The four clinical commissioning groups first announced plans to merge last April.
The idea is that patients who are registered with a GP in each group will have equal access to healthcare wherever they are in the borough.
It is also hoped that the merger will reduce duplication and cut costs – meaning more resources will be available for front-line care in the community – and that the single CCG would have greater influence in the NHS and could make a stronger case in funding bids than the four smaller CCGs.
Clare Watson, chief officer of the four Cheshire clinical commissioning groups said: “We are delighted that, following the outcome of our governing body committees in common meeting, we are now in a position to submit our application to merge the four Cheshire CCGs to NHS England.”
Dr Chris Ritchieson, chair of NHS West Cheshire CCG who also chaired the meeting, added: “Along with Dr Andrew Wilson of Eastern and South Cheshire CCGs and Dr Jonathan Griffiths of Vale Royal CCG, we would like to extend our thanks to our partners and members of the public who have taken the time to share their thoughts and feedback on our merger proposals.
“We would also like to acknowledge the time and consideration that our four GP Memberships have dedicated in reaching this decision, which supports our ambition to create a single strategic commissioner for Cheshire, championing the needs of local people at a regional and national level.”