By Eddie Bisknell (LDRS)
A proposal to merge Derbyshire’s four main NHS organisations was largely supported by those who took part in a public consultation.
Papers published ahead of a public meeting of the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) show that 107 people put forward their views on the plans.
If approved, the county’s four CCGs – North Derbyshire, Hardwick, Erewash and Southern Derbyshire – would be merged into one organisation.
It is hoped that the combined organisation would provide the “economies of scale” necessary to make multi-million funding cuts and improve the quality and coverage of healthcare services.
Of the 107 people who responded to the possibility of forming one Derbyshire CCG, 74 supported the idea. Seven opposed it and 26 had no preference.
A total of 108 staff at GP practices across Derbyshire also responded to the consultation. Of these, 89 said that they supported the merger. Sixteen opposed the plan and three abstained.
The preferred name for the proposed new organisation is NHS Derby and Derbyshire CCG.
The combined CCGs have a “net operating expenditure” of £1.5 billion with 396 staff and 117 GP practices. Together, they oversee 1,045,000 patients.
CCGs were created following the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and replaced Primary Care Trusts on April 1, 2013, a major overhaul to the organisational structure of the NHS.
Each CCG had its own chief executive and leadership team, along with a governing board and chair of governors.
In 2016 the four CCGs – in a move towards a full merger – adopted a single executive management structure.
Dr Chris Clayton was appointed as chief executive officer to oversee the four organisations in April last year, alongside chief finance officer Louise Bainbridge – while the four governing boards and chairs currently remain.
This changeover saw six executive staff lose their jobs – with the combined pay-out in redundancy “exit packages” totalling £963,024.
The four Derbyshire CCGs currently face an uphill struggle to make £51 million in cuts by April next year – out of a total deficit of £95 million – to bring this shortfall down to £44 million.
If the CCGs meet this saving target, the remaining £44 million will be written off, but if they do not, they must make the remaining cuts.
Next year it is expected that the CCGs will face further financial difficulties, with cuts of £71 million on the cards.
So far, the CCGs have saved around a third of the £51 million mandated cuts, at £14.8 million, ahead of schedule.
A final decision on the merger is due by late October / early November. The new organisation would come into force from April 2019.