The eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in North West London – the bodies that commission health services for local people – are considering merging into a single organisation.
The North West London Collaboration of CCGs has today published a case for change, setting out why a single organisation could enable quicker decisions, greater efficiency and more resources being freed up for patient care rather than administrative costs.
A North West London-wide focus could enable the CCGs to reduce health inequalities, ending any suggestion of a postcode lottery by making services equitable across the eight boroughs. The document makes clear, however, that it would be critical for commissioners to retain key relationships at local level, working closely with local councils, other NHS organisations, Healthwatch and the voluntary sector. Mark Easton, Accountable Officer for the eight CCGs, said:
“We are exploring the option of moving to a single CCG, with a view to merging the eight organisations.
“We can work more effectively for patients as a single statutory body. We have unwarranted variation in health outcomes and duplication across eight boroughs – by reducing this inefficiency we can improve quality and reduce inequalities. We need to save money – the running cost reductions will make a small contribution to our savings requirement, but the more significant savings will come from reducing duplication and operating as an integrated rather than competitive system.”
“We would of course retain a focus and a presence in each of the eight CCG areas and we would want local relationships and programmes to continue to be managed at local level. We are talking to local authority colleagues, provider trusts and local GPs about how we would continue to work together in future. In all of this, it is crucial that services remain accountable to local residents in each borough and that patients and the public have the chance to shape and feedback on health services.
“We are moving towards a single partnership across all eight boroughs, known as an integrated care system (ICS), in which all health and care organisations in North West London work as a single team. It is expected that this ICS will include a single CCG and that is what we are exploring. However, we first want to engage the views of local GPs, local authorities, NHS trusts, Healthwatch and residents on this proposal.”
New national guidance in the NHS Long Term Plan suggests reducing the number of CCGs so that there is ‘typically one per Sustainability and Transformation Partnership area’ – which would mean 44 CCGs nationwide and five in London. The eight CCGs – Brent, Central London, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and West London – have a long history of working together and make up the North West London Collaboration of CCGs.
The CCGs will be discussing the proposed move to a single organisation at governing body meetings and a decision is expected later this year. There will also be discussions with GP members, local authorities, provider trusts and Healthwatch organisations.