A PROPOSAL to merge Warrington and Halton CCGs has been put forward for consultation as NHS England looks to reduce running costs.

In November, NHS England advised CCGs that the running cost allowance would be reducing by a further 20 per cent by 2020/21.

In addition, the NHS Long Term Plan signalled the direction of travel, with streamlining of commissioning and a focus on ‘place’ and integrated care systems.

A spokesperson for Warrington CCG said: "NHS Warrington CCG and NHS Halton CCG have been working together for a number of years, sharing expertise, knowledge and skills.

"There has been a lot of joint working that has provided some real benefits in terms of an effective and efficient way of working.

"Since last November the CCGs have been working to identify actions to reduce running costs but have now exhausted all internal actions to reduce spend and it is simply impossible for the CCGs to make the required reduction in isolation.

"The list of options were evaluated against criteria that included; benefits for patients, alignment with the NHS Long Term Plan, being coterminous with local authorities, clinical leadership and financial management."

In a joint meeting governing bodies from Halton and Warrington CCGs, assessed the options to see which were most viable.

Option one: formal merger of the two CCGs

This would build on the current integrated working arrangements but will mean the establishment of an entirely new CCG, with a single management team, governing body and one set of statutory duties to be delivered, coexisting with the local authorities. Savings would be made as the duplication would be reduced. In addition, this would support the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan, retaining a focus on ‘place’ across both Warrington and Halton, whilst supporting the streamlining of commissioning and reducing running costs.

Option two: do nothing

There are already some benefits in terms of the integrated management team, the move to a single functional base and the alignment of some work programmes. However, there will still be a lot of duplication in terms of governance arrangements, with two governing bodies, accounts, commissioning plans, work programmes etc. This option would maintain the status quo but does not offer any benefit in terms of economies of scale nor deliver the required reduction in costs or fulfil the vision of becoming a strategic commissioner in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.

Option three: CCGs integrate with their respective local authorities

This option would be integration as it would not be possible for the CCG to fully merge with the local authority as a single entity as local authorities and CCGs are different legal entities with separate statutory responsibilities. This option would also require a considerable amount of time to implement, even with complete sign up of all organisations and a level of duplication would remain as CCGs are accountable for delivering the financial and constitutional targets. In addition, this option may not meet the financial requirement to achieve a reduction in the running cost allowance by 20 per cent in the mandated timescales.

At this point the case for change is being developed against each of the three options, and as part of this process the CCGs want to seek the views of stakeholders including partners, providers, patients, the public and third sector organisations.

People can provide us with their views by completing a short survey by clicking here

During September all the feedback will be considered as part of the case for change for each of the options and will be used to inform the decision making.

A decision is expected by the middle of September.