NHS decisions set to come back under one roof after merger approved
Major decisions about NHS services in County Durham will be made under a single roof again after care chiefs agreed to a management shake-up.
Responsibility for the county had been split between two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), one for North Durham and a second for Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES).
But on August 27, a joint committee of bosses from both organisations agreed to merge into a single County Durham CCG.
“With the arrangement we’ve got now, there’s no reason not to merge because we’re effectively working as one organisation already,” said Dr Stewart Findley, chief officer for both CCGs.
He added: “I think the two CCGs have been very successful and I think one of the biggest advantages is the integration agenda.
“I think we need to continue to deliver on the excellent management we’ve seen over the last few years and continue to build on the Primary Care Networks (PCNs), which I think in Durham are some of the most advanced in the country.”
On July 30, Dr Findley told members of Durham County Council the latest NHS Long Term Plan was pushing CCG’s across the country to merge along the lines of new Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) – groups of care providers such as hospitals, GPs and even social care providers, working together.
The new combined CCG will cover about 550,000 patients across 66 GP practices and 13 PCNs – groups of GP practices which are able to club together to offer specialist services.
While care chiefs in County Durham have been finalising plans, similar discussions have been happening in Teesside, where CCGs for Darlington; South Tees and Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees are expected to agree their own agree their own merger.
The new CCGs for County Durham and Tees Valley are predicted to be up and running by April.
Across the five current CCGs, ‘collaborative arrangements’ are already though to have saved about £1.5million – about a third of which is believed to have come from County Durham’s two CCGs.
A report for NHS bosses claimed there are still ‘some significant efficiencies’ to be made from the mergers, which could save an extra £2.1 million over the next two years.
Durham is part of the North East’s ‘Central ICP’, which also includes Sunderland and South Tyneside, both of which have backed the merger plans, but which are ‘not yet in a position’ to pursue similar plans.