The four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Herefordshire and Worcestershire are to become a single organisation in April 2020.
A single NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG will be created, replacing NHS Herefordshire CCG, NHS Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, NHS South Worcestershire CCG and NHS Wyre Forest CCG.
The merger, which has been given conditional approval by NHS England and NHS Improvement, follows a period of engagement with the public, staff, providers and other key stakeholders. It has also been supported by GP practices in Herefordshire and Worcestershire as well as each CCG Governing Body.
While there remain some final steps to take and conditions to meet before final approval is granted, the CCGs are now working towards 1 April 2020 for the creation of the new CCG.
The plan to merge does not affect any health or care services provided by NHS organisations or local councils across the area, but aims to reduce the duplication of roles and governance that sit behind the scenes within the four organisations. It is also consistent with the expectation set out in the NHS Long Term Plan that there should be more streamlined commissioning arrangements in place across the Herefordshire and Worcestershire footprint.
Simon Trickett, Accountable Officer for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCGs said: “Our main priority is, and always will be, our patients and the health and wellbeing of our local population. Having already set up combined governance and decision-making arrangements across the four CCGs, this is the next logical step.
“We will not lose sight of the different needs of our local communities and we will continue to work with local organisations so that people’s needs, views and experiences remain at the heart of our decision making.”
A public engagement exercise conducted across Herefordshire and Worcestershire earlier this year drew support for proposals to bring together the four CCGs, with over half of the respondents in favour of the creation of a single CCG.
A subsequent ballot of GP member practices in each of the four CCG areas drew even stronger support, with 94% of practices across Herefordshire and Worcestershire in favour of a merger.
Why has this been proposed?
The NHS Long Term Plan presents the opportunity for all NHS organisations to radically change the way in which they work both internally and in partnership with one another to help support the development of Integrated Care Systems.
For CCGs, there is an expectation that by April 2021 every Integrated Care System will have more streamlined commissioning arrangements to enable a single set of commissioning decisions at the Integrated Care System level. For Herefordshire and Worcestershire this will involve moving from four CCGs to a leaner, more strategic single CCG for Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
In achieving this there will be a change to the role of the CCG itself, shifting from the traditional model of commissioning to one with a greater focus on strategic commissioning on a bigger geographical footprint and making shared decisions with providers on how to best use resources, design services and improve population health. The CCG will also have a role in supporting providers to partner with local government and other community organisations at county or ‘place’ level, and in ensuring that GPs and community services are supported to deliver at their local level.
In Herefordshire and Worcestershire this will also include a shift of our valuable clinical leadership resources, realigning them into roles where they will be better able to influence service delivery through developing Primary Care Networks and the new investment being aligned to these groups.
What are the anticipated benefits?
There are many benefits to be realised from bringing together the four Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCGs into a single commissioning organisation.
- All CCGs are required to reduce their running costs by 20% by 31 March 2020, which means finding a saving of nearly £2 million across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. By creating one single CCG, instead of the current four, the CCGs believe they can save the required £2 million
- A single commissioning organisation will mean single commissioning polices across the two counties, putting an end to ‘postcode lotteries’ for services and treatments across Herefordshire and Worcestershire
- Will ensure a single, strong and consistent vision and voice the CCGs’ partners
- Working together as one organisation rather than four organisations will generate economies of scale and reduce duplication, enabling the CCGs to focus resources into front line services and patient care
- Supports the move towards an Integrated Care System for Herefordshire and Worcestershire and working in partnership with providers. An Integrated Care System will to help people stay healthy and tackle the causes of illness as well as the wider factors that affect health such as education and housing
- More integrated working with partners across Herefordshire and Worcestershire will allow various organisations to work together in a shared way; sharing budgets, staff and resources where appropriate to best meet people’s needs. This will also mean designing more innovative contracts which will provide more power and flexibility to providers while reducing the bureaucracy and inefficiency associated with multiple separate contracts
- CCG staff will have greater capacity to support partners as duplication of roles is removed across the system.