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Councillors fear identity crisis following CCG merger

Members of one of Kent’s leading councils have voiced their concerns against the potential of an upcoming merger between CCGs in the area.

Cllr Wendy Purdy (Con) and Cllr Teresa Murray (Lab) argued on Tuesday evening that Medway County Council could lose its independence if eight CCGs from surrounding areas merged together to create a larger authority.

The groups are aiming to work together in commissioning care for now, with aims to apply to merge in the future as one potential route, subject to NHS England’s approval.

"Medway is Medway. We worked hard to become a unitary authority and we should keep it so," Cllr Purdy said.

Purdy noted: "I believe we need our own CCG, I'm not in favour of this big umbrella,” adding that towns may fall out of favour as a priority for primary care if the proposals go ahead.

In its report to the health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Glenn Douglas, Kent & Medway CCGs accountable officer and chief executive of the sustainability & transformation partnership, said: “Making strategic commissioning decisions across multiple CCGs is good because it provides consistency and reduces duplication; both for ourselves and the hospital, community and mental health services we work with.

“It will help improve services for patients by reducing variation in quality and access to care and will drive up standards across all providers.”

The eight CCGs are establishing a strategic commissioning function to do some commissioning once across the patch.

All 8 CCGs remain statutory organisations and will continue leading local commissioning. Design work is still underway to confirm what responsibilities the strategic commissioner will take on.

Plans to discuss the possibility of bringing together CCGs in Kent and Medway were confirmed in February.

The plans to work together will be labelled as the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.

Rachel Knight told the BBC: “We are still in the early stages of developing the strategic commissioner and have not yet made any decisions on the specific responsibilities it will have.

"It is important to preserve and develop front-line clinical leadership of commissioning and the ability to tailor health services to the needs of local populations."



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