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Three CCGs plan to consolidate across county boundary

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Three clinical commissioning groups in Essex and Suffolk have set out plans to form a “single strategic commissioning body” across county boundaries as part of local plans to establish an integrated care system, Health Service Journal reports.

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The plans for Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk and North East Essex CCGs are set out in the latter’s March governing body papers.

They come as two of the CCGs’ major acute providers are also set to sign off their merger next week.

North East Essex CCG’s board meeting on 27 March will discuss a paper that says: “The creation of a single strategic commissioner… offers the opportunity to review some of the historic and complex commissioning and system leadership arrangements in Suffolk and North East Essex, across both health and where appropriate social care.

“There is now a compelling case for the three CCGs within this footprint to come together on a more formal basis, in order to strengthen commissioning capacity and capability as a single strategic commissioning body.”

A CCG spokesman told HSJ that despite the creation of the single commissioning body, the three CCGs would remain independent statutory bodies and would not be legally merged into one CCG.

The paper says certain changes would be required before “organisational alignment” could be achieved. It sets out a timeline to establish a joint committee, appoint a single accountable officer and establish committees in common by August. No timeline is set out for completing the full merger.

The CCGs are all in the Suffolk and North East Essex strategic and transformation partnership, which wants to develop an integrated care system.

Two of the STP’s acute providers, struggling Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust and neighbouring Ipswich Hospital Trust have already agreed in principle to merge, with a business plan due to be considered for final approval at a joint board meeting on 29 March.

The STP is led by Nick Hulme who is also chief executive of the two trusts. The other acute provider in the STP is West Suffolk FT, which was rated outstanding in January.

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