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Plans to bring together clinical commissioning groups in Kent and Medway confirmed

By Paul Francis

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 what are known as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) but if approved would involve the eight organisations jointly commissioning some healthcare services on a county-wide scale.

It is likely there will be a reduction in what are known as “accountable officers” who manage the CCGs as the reorganisation envisages the appointment of one chief executive.

The CCG is faced with £7.3m of debt. Stock image.
The CCG is faced with £7.3m of debt. Stock image.

A statement issued on behalf of the CCGs said: “We are already working together as eight CCGs on a range of projects such as the stroke review and the re-commissioning of NHS 111.

“A single strategic commissioning function would strengthen that, building our capacity and capability across the CCGs to work together where doing so can drive the service improvements our patients need and expect.”

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 to us collectively that there is a need for some aspects of the commissioning of NHS care to be more joined-up.

“We need a strategic commissioner with the authority to establish strategic priorities and plans to improve the health and wellbeing for the population of Kent and Medway and commission services from a small number of health and care partnerships, which would join up the delivery of frontline services.

Stock picture of GP in a surgery with patient
Stock picture of GP in a surgery with patient

“As a first step to this, 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.

"Under this proposal, 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 Maidstone 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 commission services for their local area, buying services on behalf of the population from 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 in the area.

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