GP members in West London clinical commissioning group (CCG) have reversed their previous decision to oppose an eight-way CCG merger in London.
Almost three-quarters of members (73.5%) have now voted in favour of the plan to form a single North West London CCG, after the initial vote failed to gain their support.
The GP members previously cited concerns about the impact of the merger on patients at smaller practices and CCG finances, and only 35% voted in support of the proposals in September – but the voting system required 50% to support the plans.
NWL CCG said it had since carried out further discussions with West London CCG members in a bid to ‘understand their concerns’.
A spokesperson for NWL CCG told Healthcare Leader: ‘We clarified a number of issues, but we didn’t make any changes to what was proposed.
‘The issues clarified include: The importance of borough committees in primary care commissioning and feedback on services on the ground, the greater responsibility integrated care partnerships will have going forward on deciding on the delivery of local services and equal representation of West London member practices on the single CCG governing body.’
A merger proposal for all eight CCGs has been submitted to NHS England, with a view to merge from April 2021.
The other seven areas – Brent, Central London, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Hounslow – all voted in favour of the proposals in the September vote.
The NWL CCGs said: ‘The proposed merger aligns to the NHS Long Term Plan. To achieve our vision, we need to have one organisation buying and commissioning services for all in North West London – this means moving to a single CCG.’
‘Good news for patients’
Jo Ohlson, accountable officer for the NWL CCGs said: ‘We are pleased that practices in West London CCG now feel able to support the merger proposal. All eight CCGs have voted in favour and we have been discussing moving to a single CCG for the last eighteen months.’
‘Each borough will continue to have its own team to ensure that the right services are provided for local needs. We have learned a great deal from the Covid-19 pandemic, notably about how we function better as one organisation as joint working across all parts of the NHS, in partnership with social care, has been critical to our response.’
Dr Andrew Steeden, GP chair of West London CCG, added: ‘This is good news for patients in West London; working as a single body will enable us to reduce duplication and administrative costs, while focusing on improving services for patients and tackling health inequalities across North West London.
‘A strong local voice for both GPs and patients will be critically important to our success – this was a point made by our practices and one on which we were happy to reassure them.’
Five CCGs for London
Seven other CCGs in the capital also voted in favour of becoming a single North East London CCG in April 2021 this week.
This follows the merging of 18 London CCGs in April 2020 to create three organisations – NHS North Central London CCG, NHS South East London CCG and NHS South West London CCG.
Governing body members for four Black Country and West Birmingham CCGs have also recently agreed to a merger.