England is set for a major culling of clinical commissioning groups in the coming year, it has been revealed.
As many as 86 CCGs are involved in talks about mergers or consolidations, according to research by the Health Service Journal. This could lead to a one third reduction in CCG numbers, leaving just 126 in place, according to the journal.
The moves are driven by the creation of primary care networks, replicating the original role of CCGs in bringing general practitioners together. They will also be driven by the need for CCGs to have enough weight to manage new integrated care organisations.
The journal points out that primary care trusts, which preceded CCGs, went through a similar process of mergers and reductions in numbers in the first decade of the century.
In 2013, some 150 primary care trusts were replaced by 211 CCGs. In London 25 CCGs could be reduced to four in April – and the remaining seven could be merged into a fifth.
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association GP committee, told the journal: “As these organisations become smaller, more distant and more regionally-based, it’s much harder to maintain that local link.”