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Medway councillor shares concerns about Kent's CCGs merging

A Medway councillor has criticised the move to merge Kent's clinical commissioning groups - the bodies which plan and pay for healthcare.

The merge is meant to save time, money and effort for GPs and allow health and care organisations to work together more.

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However, Teresa Murray, Deputy Leader of Medway Labour Group and spokesman for health, has said her "biggest worry is that the patient voice is diminishing and diminishing."

Ms Murray thinks integrated care is a "very desirable and good thing". However, as Medway uses 25% of the total CCG budget in Kent, she worries that it will become "a lot harder to bargain to make sure that we get our fair share of the money."

Ms Murry also highlighted her concern that some services will be passed over to the private sector.

"While they might run the services well, they are profit making. This sets a dangerous precedent and I don't want it to happen to our services in Medway.

"Our community services, for example, are run by a people led organisation and I'd like it to stay that way. But if we're commissioning for the whole of Kent and Medway at the same time, my worry is that the things that we do well in Medway might get lost in the fight."

Medway uses 25% of the total CCG budget in Kent
Medway uses 25% of the total CCG budget in Kent

Ms Murray wants to see measures put in place to ensure CCGs cannot lobbied by drug companies.

When commenting on whether Medway has different needs compared to the rest of Kent, Ms Murray said: "Unfortunately, in our modern deprived parts of Medway, people are suffering from heart conditions and diabetes at an earlier stage than other people in Kent.

"Health inequality and our needs are very different from the people in Tunbridge Wells, who also deserve a good service."

Ms Murray also points out that CCGs were intended to be locally controlled, but this has changed.

She added: "My biggest worry is that the patient voice is diminishing and diminishing. I hope that people listening will join patient and public listening committees in their practices. Anybody can set up and once you have set up, once you have that committee, you can be a formal consultee.

"I want people to have the services they deserve. This is our NHS and everybody should be able to play a part in it and get what they need. I understand that you may need to merge to be stronger and maybe make the staff stronger; but if this means that patients loose services then it's not a good thing to do.

"The big CCG has got to find a way of making sure that local needs are served and identified properly. The only way to do that is through public lobbying to try to put some pressure on them to show that everyone who uses the NHS wants a fair crack of the whip."

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