Unlawful NHS Mergers?

Proposed NHS mergers threaten more privatisation under cover of Covid, say Merseyside campaigners.

Our intrepid NHS watcher Barrie French tells us about “Campaigners on Merseyside are demanding local health bosses reject massive merger plans which would clear the way for further NHS privatisation, removing public accountability in the midst of the pandemic.

Consultant Dermatologist Andrea Franks said “Covid-19 has not gone away and this half-baked merger which lumps the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside into one artificial unit will interfere with patient care and keep the public at arms’ length”.

In July, NHS England/Improvement issued instructions on Phase 3 Covid-19 priorities for the NHS. This included a statement indicating the policy direction for the future of local NHS commissioning, which would “typically lead to a single Clinical Commissioning Group across the system.” (The system being the Integrated Care System)

Across Cheshire and Merseyside, this would see nine Clinical Commissioning Groups dissolve in favour of one Clinical Commissioning Group for 2.3 million people. This is noted in the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group’s Chief Officer report (paper B1) to the Governing Body, which meets today (8th September 2020).

A campaigner reports [Today, 8 September] that the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body meeting has just addressed campaigners’ submitted questions and fully acknowledged that they are being told to merge across Cheshire & Merseyside. What will happen is not yet clear.

The quango’s instructions to merge all nine Clinical Commissioning Groups, might otherwise have escaped detailed attention from the Governing Body as the Chief Officer’s Report to the Governing Body only dealt glancingly with this issue.

The section on the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ merger mostly focuses on NHSE/I’s rejection of the earlier proposal for a N Merseyside CCGs merger “CCG Merger “In March 2020 the Liverpool CCG Governing Body approved a proposal to make an application to NHS England for the establishment of a North Mersey CCGs, following support from the CCG’s membership. This was also supported by the GP memberships of Knowsley, South Sefton and Southport and Formby CCGs. Since March, the four CCGs have been developing an application which was due to be submitted in September 2020 for the establishment of the new CCG in April 2021.

“The recently issued Phase 3 guidance setting out new priorities for the NHS included a statement indicating the policy direction for the future of CCG commissioning, which would ‘typically lead to a single CCG across the system.’ This direction was confirmed in a letter to all North West NHS organisations from Bill McCarthy, NHS England North West Regional Director, which stated that ‘The default expectation is that there will be one CCG per ICS, enabling strategic commissioning and the devolution of more functions to the system level…decision making and energy will be located in place based leadership alongside Local Authority colleagues to tackle longstanding inequalities…..’

The Chairs of the four CCGs met with leaders from NHS England and the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership in August to understand what this means for the North Mersey CCG proposal. The outcome of the meeting was that NHS England considers an application for a North Mersey CCG is not on a scale that matches the national or regional direction. CCGs will enter into further discussions with NHSE/I and Cheshire and Mersey Health and Care Partnership in September”.

Fragmenting The NHS In England Into 42 Integrated Care Systems. The 9 CCGs’ merger was dreamt up and dictated by NHS England, as part of a plan to convert the English National Health Service into 42 separate ‘Integrated Care Systems‘. A flotilla of private companies including Deloitte, PWC, KPMG, Virgin and over two dozen US firms are accredited by NHS England, via the Health Services Support Framework, to develop Integrated Care Systems.

What is the Cheshire & Merseyside Health & Care Partnership? “Our Partnership Members, 12 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups including NHS Southport and Formby CCG, 19 NHS Providers including Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust”.

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