Merger approved. Debts to be written off if £79 million savings found
GPs have reversed their opposition to creating a single NHS body for Devon responsible for spending more than £1.5bn of health cash.
The move to merge Devon’s two clinical commissioning groups – one for Torbay and South Devon and the other for the rest of the county – has now been approved by NHS England. In September GPs in Torbay and South Devon voted narrowly against the plan, although the rest of Devon voted in favour and there was an overall majority supporting the change. The GPs voting against were concerned about loss of influence in what was viewed by some as a takeover by the larger area.
But a second vote in Torbay and South Devon at the end of November following discussions with the practices resulted in 21 in favour of the merger with six against and two not voting. A statement from the two CCGs said the result enabled them to progress the merger plan.
It said: “We firmly believe the outcome of the vote unlocks the potential to create an exciting future for local healthcare across the county as a whole. This is an important step in our journey to create a single strategic commissioner for Devon as part of our ambition to better integrate health and care services to benefit our local communities.”
The CCGs say they have already saved £4m from closer working, with another £1m to be saved from board and back-office costs. A single commissioner would deliver an extra £1.7m for healthcare. Conditions imposed by NHS England on the merger going ahead from April include a “robust financial recovery plan” which addresses current deficits and plans to repay the CCGs’ historic debts.
The merger is in line with structural changes in the NHS, which will see a single Integrated Care System for Devon start in April. The joint CCGs which have a single executive team are aiming to make £78.6m worth of savings and efficiencies to end the year on target with a £25m deficit.