The merger of North Yorkshire’s three clinical commissioning groups (CCG) will not lead to a loss of local focus, residents have been told.
NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG, and NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG will submit a merger proposal to NHS England in September and anticipate operating as a single statutory body from April 1 2020.
The Scarborough CCG held its annual general meeting at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on Wednesday night, during which Amanda Bloor, the accountable officer for the three CCGs, told those present that it was a good opportunity for all concerned.
She also maintained that the CCG, which commissions services at Scarborough Hospital and also represents 12 GP practices, would not lose its focus on local communities as a result.
Mrs Bloor said: “I think this is a really good opportunity and the example I would use in terms of how this can work really well is North Yorkshire County Council, which is recognised as an organisation which spans North Yorkshire but is grounded in local communities and built up from the local community engagement it has with patients, carers, families and local organisations.
“That’s the ambition that we collectively have for the clinical commissioning groups of North Yorkshire.”
The merged CCG would be responsible for buying health services for a population of more than 425,000 people and have a combined annual budget in excess of £620 million.
Mrs Bloor said that by commissioning services once across North Yorkshire it could address “waste and inefficiencies” in the individual CCGs.
She added: “I am absolutely committed to the importance of local and local responsive services and supporting people to live well at home in their own communities.
“There are real differences in health inequalities in North Yorkshire, if you drive from one side to the other the difference is marked in terms of life expectancy. So whilst there will be a number of things we can absolutely do once and would expect outcomes and access to services to be the same in terms of quality, there will be areas where we need to focus on more.”
Mrs Bloor said that as well as health the CGG would be focussed on education and advice, such as ensuring people knew how and when to take their asthma medication and other such programmes that could be commissioned once across the region.
She added: “I know because I use health services too, my family uses them, that actually if you’re in receipt of a service you actually don’t care who employs that individual or where they come from. You want people to be joined up, you want to do things once and you want those organisations to work seamlessly together and that is what we are starting to lead and deliver in the localities across Scarborough and Ryedale.”
Last year, NHS England asked CCGs to cut their administration costs by 20%, suggesting mergers as the best way to meet this target.
The financial pressure on the Scarborough and Ryedale CCG was also laid bare during the AGM with the accounts showing that in 2018/19 it planned for a loss of £4milllion but ended up with a deficit of £11.5million, mainly due to pressures in acute and continuing care.
The CCG is now planning for a £4.8m deficit in 2019/20 which would see it need to make savings of £7.8m.