Three West Midland CCGs will be merging next year following a vote by its member GP practices.
South Warwickshire, Warwickshire North, and Coventry and Rugby CCGs, which serve a combined population of 814,000 patients, will merge from April next year provided their application to NHS England is successful.
Member practices from Warwickshire North and Coventry and Rugby voted for the plans over a two-week period, starting at the end of January. They rejected two alternative proposals to appoint a joint management team across three bodies or to make no changes at all. South Warwickshire CCG voted for a full merger last June.
The CCGs hope this partnership will improve financial stability by reducing duplication, removing ‘structural barriers’ and ‘competing priorities’, according to a 2019 transition report. They also believe it could address healthcare deprivation in the area more effectively.
In 2017, Coventry and Rugby CCG and Warwickshire North CCG agreed to become jointly managed organisations, sharing a single executive. They, still, however, remained two distinct and separate bodies.
There are currently 361 employees across the three CCGs, and it is not yet known if there will be any job losses.
In a joint statement, accountable officers for the CCGs Adrian Stokes and Gillian Entwistle said: ‘We believe that this is the best outcome for our population, our practices and our health system, allowing us to most effectively work together to deliver the goals of the NHS Long Term Plan and improve health care for all the residents of Coventry and Warwickshire.
‘We are grateful to all our GP Member Practices and stakeholders who have taken the time to be involved in this process and given us their support.’
The Long Term Plan recommends mergers as a way for NHS organisations to align strategy and manage resources and assets better. More than 55 CCGs submitted merger applications by the end of last year.
There has been widespread concern over the growing number of mergers. Local Medical Councils have warned that this trend will lead to GPs having less input in local decision-making and ‘present a real challenge’ to having proportionate GP representation.