Green light given for merger of Kent and Medway clinical commissioning groups

Health services

The eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Kent and Medway, which are responsible for local care services, have been given conditional approval to merge and form a single CCG from  April 1, 2020.

The CCGs say the decision by NHS England and NHS Improvement puts them in a good position to support the development of local integrated care partnership and primary care networks, which are a vital part of improving care for local people.

Health chiefs say the move will save time, money and effort, freeing up GP time to see patients, and staff and GP time to develop new ways of working. The aim is also to make best use of staff and funds to meet rising demand.

The approval to create the single CCG has some conditions attached to it including the delivery of a financial recovery plan this year, and clear plans for how the financial position of Kent and Medway will continue to improve ad a review in December to determine whether legal financial directions can be lifted from the four east Kent CCGs, including Thanet.

GPs in each of the existing eight CCGs across Kent and Medway voted for the merger which they say will have benefits including improved staff recruitment and retention.

The Governing Body will be led by a GP majority, with one GP from each of the existing CCG areas for at least the first two years. After 2022, the Governing Body will review how GPs are elected to it, linked to geographic communities of GPs, to ensure fair representation.

Councillor Karen Constantne said she has concerns over the merger. She said: “I am very concerned about this merger into a super CCG. I think it will put real distance between the Commissioner’s and patients and will erode accountability. I want to be fully reassured that there will be no attempt to hold these meetings behind ‘closed doors’.

“The further away from Thanet these meetings are, the less residents and NHS activists will be able to observe and scrutinise the CCG meetings. Currently each CCG must meet in public, publish board papers, and consult on changes. This must continue and there should be even more robust efforts made to maintain engagement with patients.

“I fear that this move will aid the on-going marketisation of the NHS, leading to privatisation. We know we are struggling now with GP services across Thanet. I don’t think a super CCG will help.”

A spokesman for the NHS in Kent and Medway said: “The single CCG will meet in public, publish board papers and consult on changes. As the new system develops from April 2020 much of the work previously done by NHS Thanet CCG will be led by an East Kent Integrated Care Partnership, which will include district councils. A key step in developing the partnership will be establishing strong patient and public engagement in the work it does to deliver local services tailored to local needs.

“The NHS Long Term Plan is very clear that collaboration, rather than competition, is the future, and proposes to remove regulations requiring the NHS to procure services. Integrated care is about existing NHS services working more closely together and with other local partners, in particular councils.”


    • This is one view from a health campaigner who shares your viewpoint. It is not a comprehensive analysis.
      Readers should be aware of this.
      There needs to be change of the NHS is to be fit for purpose in the 21st century.

  1. An interesting initiative. Presumably the private American health companies that are just waiting for Brexit so they can take over the NHS are stating that all these local bodies are too unwieldy. And smaller, local bodies are too close to the local patients who might object to having their services privatised.So they have to be merged into one big, remote organisation , run by people we don’t know, a long way away.

    Like that, we will not really identify with our local GPs or surgeries and wouldn’t know where the decisions are made anyway.
    Then it will be easy to hand over to the “All American Health Insurance Fund” or whatever the particular dodgy outfit is called.
    But this will only happen if the Tories can get the Brexit deal approved and then get elected to power soon after.

      • Under the Tories, and New Labour, too, funding to the NHS has been cut. In addition, the NHS has been restructured in such a way that of what funding remains, large amounts goes to private sector share holders rather than sick people.
        Just look at PFI. A conveyor belt designed to move huge amounts of public money into the private sector.

    • I’m sure Keefogs is absolutely correct. When have the Tories ever had the welfare of the general public at heart? Not recently, if ever.

  2. Councillor Constantine,
    There is no evidence that a merger of CCGs supports your statement below.
    “I fear that this move will aid the on-going marketisation of the NHS, leading to privatisation.
    You continue to push your argument that the NHS is being privatised which is untrue.

  3. Dear Sandra,

    if bigger is better, then SELEP or the South Eastern ‘Local’ Enterprise partnership would be a shining example of local community action, but alas and alack,it is I am afraid remote,lacking any out reach with Thanet and is in the hands of mostly unaccountable functionaries, who either lack local knowledge or who are insouciant to the struggling economies in the east of its area.It is based in Chelmsford, some 90 miles away and seems only concerned with the doings of the Discovery park and similar institutions.Most informed commentators within and without government, concede that it is too large and too unwieldy.
    Where will this mega CCG be based? It wouldn’t be Maidstone by any chance?The NHS is already struggling in Kent , with trusts in special measures and an ambulance service in challenging circumstances, so how does this resolve the acute shortage of GP’s in Ramsgate for instance (1 for 3300 persons compared to 1 for 1,800 as the national average)?
    You seem to be an apologist for minimal healthcare systems as epitomised by the very inefficient US health care structure.
    Having seen the tin eared and irrational response to valid concerns over stroke care and HASU’s; will this be more of the same, and are you not one of these tin eared functionaries?
    Is fit for purpose in the 21st century really meaning a cut down minimal system for the many, and live long and prosper for the wealthy?

  4. Dear Sandra,
    it is not rudeness,but critical analysis of an apparent insouciance towards the challenges faced by the health care service in Thanet. What you call ‘lies’ are concerns brought about by the drum beat of out sourced service delivery that has been the mantra of this government (if you can the current shambolic bunch of opportunists a govt) and its predecessors Tory and Labour.
    What patients want is not a choice of bad options, but good locally based services delivered with kindness.
    Not understanding this requirement is where you and I part company. My suggestion is to stop calling people liars and find ways to deliver good quality services without the constant ‘restructuring and centralising’ proposed by people who have very little empathy with those living in left behind Britain.

  5. Dear George Makes,
    You called me a tin eared functionary, I asked you to stick to the facts. Who is the one being rude?
    Nobody in the government to my knowledge has said the NHS will be sold off, unless you can tell me who has said this.
    I am not insouciant towards the NHS in Thanet, quite the opposite and it needs to meet the standards offered in other parts of the country which it cannot do if it stays the same.
    I am also against weaponising the NHS which certain political factions are determined to do.

  6. How does centralising anything achieve the standards required? All it does is delay reform,make decision making remote from the locus of the problem and unsettle an already challenged system.The response to the HASU issue is tin eared and there is no other way to put it.So tin eared, that the tin eared technocrats are going to law, rather than reach out to the concerns of Thanet. I cannot see why you are apologising for them.As for american infiltration of the health system, I am afraid I cannot be anything but wary, when dealing with institutionalised neo liberal structures.
    The past is littered with PFI, outsourcing , failed adult social care companies and under performing contractors, so you will forgive me if I arraign the charge sheet in front of you.
    You call it weaponizing the NHS, I call it being called to account not just for the last decade but for 4 decades of privatisation a la outrance.
    Those who complain about weaponizing the NHS are in denial of the true situation, especially with adult social care and no amount of careless, un-costed initiatives will solve them. After all the austerity, the treasury is now having to increase the borrowing requirement,and we will all be back where we started before long.
    The facts, Sandra, is a District, where there are too few GP’s, significantly high levels of deprivation, stubborn levels of homelessness, an ageing population and a higher than average level of key morbidity’s.So we need some big weapons to fight Beveridge’s 5 giants 70 years on, not excuses.

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