Greater Manchester and Cheshire and Merseyside Commissioning Support Units are merging to create a new organisation spanning a population of more than 5m.

The two organisations provide services to 24 clinical commissioning groups and have a combined income of more than £80m, an increase of £10m since they were formally set up in April last year.

A statement from the units says the merger will secure their long-term future and enable the potential for large scale transformational support across the North West.

Together, they offer support services such as IT and business intelligence, at a large scale to the NHS including nearly 900 GP practices, 19 local authorities and 18 acute trusts. They have bases in Salford, Warrington, Chester, Liverpool and Nantwich.

One of their key projects is a £5.4m transformation programme to integrate IT across Greater Manchester.

The announcement is the latest in a line of CSU mergers with the most recent, involving NHS North and East London and NHS Anglia CSU, reported by EHI last week. It will bring the total number nationwide down to 16 as CSUs increasingly look to work together to ensure a place on NHS England's new 'lead provider framework', which focuses on delivering commissioning support services 'at scale'.

Greater Manchester CSU managing director Leigh Griffin said: “this is an ambitious move which will secure our place as a significant player in the North West health and social care economy and a give us a formidable national presence.

“There is great opportunity now to bring together our expertise, experience and learning so we can help support our clients to transform the health and social care sector to meet the challenges it faces.”

Cheshire and Merseyside CSU managing director Tim Andrews said the unit’s clients are dealing with some of the most challenging issues the NHS and social care have ever had to face.

“The merger of our two organisations means we can help answer this challenge much more effectively by drawing on the considerable combined talents of the teams across the region,” he said.

The combined statement from the CSUs say the merger will allow them to grow in to new markets and attract investment and partnerships. They are already in advanced conversations with high profile commercial organisations working in the national and international healthcare arena.

They will “move towards a merged single organisation in a measured way over the coming months”, starting with the creation of a single executive director Team by April 2014.

The CSUs say the move will not impact on the nature of the services clients’ receive, nor the way in which they are delivered.