A merger between Warrington and Halton clinical commission groups (CCGs) has been shelved following a vote.

Health chiefs had set their sights on closing down both CCGs and creating a new one next April to reduce running costs.

CCGs are clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for specific areas.

The GP membership made the decision on the matter and it can be revealed a merger application will not be submitted to NHS England because of insufficient support from members in Halton.

It comes after Warrington Borough Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden wrote a second letter to Bill McCarthy, NHS Improvements’ regional director for the north west, to express concerns about the current leadership arrangements at Warrington CCG.

He said since writing the initial letter ‘pointing out the inadequacies’ adopted by Warrington CCG in considering options for reconfiguration, he has ‘witnessed further behaviour of the accountable officer, Dr Andrew Davies’.

Dr Davies is the clinical chief officer of both CCGs.

Cllr Bowden confirmed he has spoken to a number of councillors and other senior colleagues from partner agencies about the issue.

In the letter sent last Wednesday, he said: “I wish to put on record that this council has no confidence in the current leadership of the CCG and requests that NHS Improvement now acts to replace them.

“This position has been reached on examining the track record leading to a breakdown of trust and in a lack of faith that the CCG will be able to deliver on future integration, again given past behaviour.

“There has been a record of non-attendance at strategic meetings, demonstrating a lack of commitment and engagement in the wider system landscape.

“This council believes that for too long NHS commissioning has not been subject to democratic overview.”

Furthermore, Cllr Bowden highlighted the ‘negative press coverage’ the town has suffered before stating the ‘so-called consultation on reconfiguration of the CCG has been very poorly executed and is the last straw’.

The Labour politician added: “It is unfortunate that I have to chronicle the significant evidence leading me to ask so straightforwardly for a change in leadership due to lack of faith and trust, but true partnership working calls for strong and functional relationships at the heart of the integrated system.

“I hope after reading this letter you will reach the same conclusion.”

Warrington CCG has issued a statement responding to the vote over the proposed merger, as well as Cllr Bowden’s letter.

A spokesman said: “In terms of the outcome of the vote, from a Warrington CCG perspective it was positive in that 85 per cent of those GP practices that submitted a vote accepted the recommendation to a formal merger of NHS Halton CCG and NHS Warrington CCG.

“However, only 31 per cent of the Halton CCG practices that submitted a vote accepted the recommendation.

“As there was not sufficient support for the proposed merger from the membership of NHS Halton CCG, at this point we will not be submitting the merger application to NHS England.

“We will now take some time to consider the impact of this decision and next steps in terms of what other actions need to be taken to address the financial gap.

“In terms of the letter from Cllr Bowden, we have not received any formal complaints or concerns directly, or had sight of the letter.

“We have however discussed this with NHS England and have agreed to undertake an independent review of governance and engagement to provide assurance with regards to probity and competency.”

NHS England did not wish to comment.