NHS England approves merger of "fragmented" North Yorkshire health groups

NHS England has approved the merger of three North Yorkshire clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), however questions remain over the role of the body within the county's "fragmented" health care landscape.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 10:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 10:38 am
Three North Yorkshire bodies will now be merged into one, but questions remain over the convoluted nature of health management in the county.

The merger - involving the NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, the NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG, and the NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG - was announced by NHS England on Tuesday.

Accountable officer for the three North Yorkshire CCGs, Amanda Bloor, said the move would enable the body to work "more efficiently".

"A single commissioning voice will make it easier to reduce some of the health inequalities we see across the county and respond consistently to the needs our population," she said.

The trio will operate as the North Yorkshire CCG from April 1 next year.

An NHS statement claimed the move would "eliminate unnecessary duplication and bureaucratic boundaries".

It also stated the move would help develop a unified approach to relationships with the new North Yorkshire Primary Care Networks.

However, concerns remain about the convoluted management of health care in the region.

This was highlighted by Coun Jim Clark, a current member and former chair of North Yorkshire's health scrutiny committee, who said it was "unclear" how governance of the body would work, as parts of it overlap with other health bodies.

For example, although Harrogate sits within the newly-merged CCG, it also comes under the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, with the two sharing relatively little geographical overlap.

"The three (CCGs) who are merging are in three different integrated care systems...I don't see how that is going to work," he said.

Chair of North Yorkshire's health scrutiny committee, John Ennis, said the "fragmented" nature of health care management has been an issue in the district in the past, but said overall council welcomed the latest move.

"The NHS is under pressure to achieve management cost savings and a merger is one way they can realise this," he said, adding that the move would bring the CCGs closer to the geographical footprint of the North Yorkshire authority.

"In some ways it'll help us in local government - one of the problems we've faced is the fragmented nature of our health care. This should make it a little bit easier."

He said the scrutiny body would continue to analyse any major changes to health in the county which arise from the merger.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter