Plans for health groups to unite
Health chiefs have confirmed plans to bring together Kent and Medway’s eight GP groups saying it will improve patient care and stop duplication.
The plan stops short of a full merger of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) but if approved would involve the eight organisations jointly commissioning some health care services. It is possible there will be a reduction in what are known as “accountable officers” who manage the organisations.
In a statement the groups said: “We are already working together as eight CCGs on projects such as the stroke review and the re-commissioning of NHS 111. A single strategic commissioning function would strengthen that, building our capacity across the CCGs to work together where doing so can drive improvements.”
At the same time, the CCGs would continue to be able to commission their own services for patients in their area.
The statement said: “Since the NHS, Kent County Council and Medway Council started working together as a sustainability and transformation partnership (STP), it has become clear there is a need for some aspects of NHS care to be more joined-up. We need a strategic commissioner with the authority to establish priorities and plans.”
“As a first step, the eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Kent and Medway are discussing a transitional proposal to share a management team, with a single accountable officer. The eight CCGs would remain in place and would retain their statutory role, delegating authority to the single management team where appropriate.”
If approved by the NHS, the plan could come into effect in April.
The West Kent CCG board was the latest to sign off on the plan at a meeting on Monday.
CCGs were set up in 2012, replacing primary care trusts. They buy and plan healthcare and use providers such as hospitals, clinics, community health bodies.
Nationally, they account for £74bn of the NHS budget and are largely made up of local GPs.