NHS Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit and NHS Arden CSU have announced plans for a merger.

The two CSUs will merge on 1 April next year after receiving approval from NHS England, making them the latest of a series of CSUs to merge since they were set up in April 2013.

The two CSUs currently provide specialist support to 37 clinical commissioning groups covering a wide area from Lincolnshire in the north and Worcestershire in the west to Essex in the south and east.

The organisations said the key benefits of the merger will be a “strong, locally responsive service”, greater opportunities to develop new, innovative services while improving quality and value for money, and additional opportunities for staff to develop new skills.

John Parkes, managing director of the NHS Greater East Midlands CSU, said the merger will: “Bring together the best innovations from two successful CSUs to deliver excellent services and value for money.”

And: “We are very excited about our new organisation and our contribution towards improving health outcomes for our population.”

Rachel Pearce, managing director of the NHS Arden CSU, said the two organisations already have a strong working relationship which will be enhanced by the merger, and share “the same values and commitment to making CSUs a highly valued partner for our customers”.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to spread best practice at scale by rolling out local specialisms across a broader range of customers.”

In October, West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw CSU merged with North Yorkshire and Humber CSU as part of plans to create a £90m NHS business.

In June, NHS England announced that nine CSU “alliances” had been set up, http://www.ehi.co.uk/news/ehi/9491/nine-csu-alliances-created-for-future based on a mix of partnerships and merging CSUs.

All alliances put in bids to become part of NHS England’s lead provider framework, which will allow clinical commissioning groups to purchase services on a ‘call-off’ basis.

Originally, the Department of Health estimated that between 25 and 35 CSUs could be set up to provide services to clinical commissioning groups from April 2013. That number has steadily declined since.