Merger proposed for Northamptonshire's two health commissioning groups

Joint chief executive of the two CCGs Toby Sanders has proposed the move.
Joint chief executive of the two CCGs Toby Sanders has proposed the move.

The two organisations that commission Northamptonshire’s health services could join together.

The move has been put to the governing bodies of both the Nene Clinical Commissioning Group and the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group by their joint chief executive Toby Sanders who joined the trusts in November.

Corby is the smallest CCG in the country and commissions services specifically for the Corby area.

The chief executive, who was previously in charge at the West Leicestershire CCG, said the two statutory bodies, which are both rated as good, work quite closely together already.

He said: “The governing bodies in January this year received a paper from me that said I think there is a logical next step that we might want to look at here, which would be to see us disestablish to the two statutory bodies and create one new legal statutory body from April of next year.

“That is something that we will be taking out and engaging our member practises on and local partners.

“The case for change will be set out. In simple terms the reason we think it is a sensible thing to do is that it will create a single planning and commissioning unit for the whole of Northamptonshire; it will allow us to be a bit more efficient in the way we do that.

“Rather than running two separate boards with two separate sets of arrangements, funding two sets of auditors to review our accounts and so on, we will be able to do those things once and that will deliver some efficiencies, which I think is a good thing. But importantly it will also allow us to work as a single organisation across the whole of the partnership areas as well.”

If the governing bodies decide to merge a formal bid will have to go to the NHS England by July and a decision will be made in the autumn. The single CCG would be established next April.

The chief executive said talks had already been had with NHS England about the merger.

Clinical commissioning groups are clinically-led statutory bodies that have a legal duty to plan and commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible. Collectively the two Northamptonshire CCGs have a combined budget of £983m per year.

CCGs are led by a Governing Body made up of GPs, other clinicians including a nurse and a secondary care consultant, and lay members.

They were established as part of the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 and replaced primary care trusts in April 2013.

The Corby CCG was set up separately to the rest of the county because of the town’s specific health issues and sense of identity as well as the already close working relationship of GPs in the town.