NHS England and Improvement have formally approved an application to bring together Cheshire’s four NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
NHS Eastern Cheshire, NHS South Cheshire, NHS Vale Royal and NHS West Cheshire will become the first CCGs in Cheshire and Merseyside to merge on 1 April 2020.
The move, which has the support of Cheshire GPs and the public, will bring together the planning and buying of health services across the county and give Cheshire “a more powerful voice in championing the needs of local people at regional and national level”.
Accountable Officer Clare Watson, who received confirmation on 15 October, said: “We are delighted to receive approval from NHS England/Improvement for our application to bring together the four Cheshire CCGs.
“[This] will enable us to strengthen our work as a single team to ensure the people of Cheshire are able to access consistently good care – wherever they live.
“It will also enable us to further support the development of Integrated Care Partnerships in Cheshire East and Cheshire West which will provide more care closer to home.”
A public engagement exercise conducted across Cheshire in May and June 2019 drew widespread support for proposals to bring together the four CCGs, with almost 77% of respondents in favour of the creation of a Cheshire-wide CCG.
A subsequent ballot of GP member practices in each of the four CCG areas drew even stronger support, with 86% of responses across Cheshire in favour of a merger.
Dr Chris Ritchieson, clinical chair of NHS West Cheshire CCG, chaired the Governing Body Committees in Common meeting on 26 September at which the outcome of the GP ballot was confirmed.
He said: “Along with Dr Andrew Wilson, GP Chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG and NHS South Cheshire CCG; and Dr Jonathan Griffiths, GP Chair of NHS Vale Royal CCG; we would like to extend our thanks to our partners and members of the public who have taken the time to share their thoughts and feedback.
“We would also like to once again acknowledge the time and consideration that our four GP Memberships dedicated to reaching their decision, which supported our ambition to create a single strategic commissioner for Cheshire.”