Hartlepool 'very insular' - concern over reaction to NHS plans for Clinical Commissioning Groups

Fears over Hartlepool being left behind in a health shake-up have been thrown up in a debate over the proposals.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 19:21 pm
Updated Friday, 5th July 2019, 13:35 pm

Councillors have urged the importance of Hartlepool not being left behind in plans to merge the commissioning of health services in the area.

Hartlepool Borough Council Health and Wellbeing Board heard NHS England is looking to reduce the number of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in a bid to save money in running costs, to be reinvested in health services.

Nicola Bailey, chief officer for the governing body behind the five County Durham and Tees Valley CCGs, said there currently four proposals for CCGs in the area.

The five CCGs which currently operate in the area are Darlington CCG, North Durham CCG,  South Tees CCG, Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG, along with the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG.

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New proposals include one single CCG across the Integrated Care System, which stretches as far as Cumbria, one CCG for the five current organisations across County Durham and Tees Valley and one for a single CCG across each integrated care partnership.

However she backed the final option for two CCG’s to be created, a County Durham CCG and a separate Tees Valley with Darlington CCG, with a shared management team.

Ms Bailey said: “In terms of principles we have agreed, there will be no detrimental impact on patient services.

“We know we have to change, we have to reduce our running costs by 20-25% by 2021 and that’s on staff, governance, buildings, it’s not on the health care services that we buy.

“That 20% has to go into front-line health services so it gets recycled back into front line health services.”

This option was backed by councillors but they urged Hartlepool must remain at the forefront of the services.

Council leader Coun Shane Moore said: “For me, if there is going to be change anyway whether we like it or not, it makes sense to be ahead of the curve and set the agenda ourselves.

“The obvious concern that would come from the public in Hartlepool is, as it would always be when more services get pooled in to a larger body, will Hartlepool still be as strongly represented.”

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “I would agree with the option. In Hartlepool we’re very insular and we’ve had ourselves bitten in the past, we have a history of being rather worried working within the area, there is a river which geographically splits us off.

“But at the same time as it is working now we’ve got several different areas where Tees Valley and Darlington are working together and I think it’s proving to be working very well across the area.”

Partners are currently being consulted ahead of a decision being made and bid put to NHS England by the end of August, with changes expected to come in from April next year.