Exclusive GPs have presented NHS Stoke-on-Trent and NHS North Staffordshire CCGs with a vote of no confidence following plans to create a larger commissioning group in the area.
An email sent to practices within North Staffordshire LMC, seen by Pulse says, the vote taken at the beginning of the month found that 23 out of 42 practices in the area don’t have confidence, after fears that commissioners plan to combine the debts of the CCGs.
Dr Harald Van der Linden, medical secretary for the LMC, said that the vote arose because GPs are concerned about a proposal that has been put forward to appoint one accountable officer for all CCGs in the Staffordshire area.
Dr Van der Linden said GPs in NHS Stoke-on-Trent and NHS North Staffordshire CCGs are against the move because ‘they see themselves as a unique local health economy with its own needs and challenges and they want to address that amongst themselves and not be part of a large Staffordshire group.’
He added: ‘There’s concern that the senior accountable officer will mean that we lose some of the decision making on a local level and autonomy.
The email added that clear financial boundaries are needed between the north and south CCGs in order to ‘deliver a patient orientated service, that supports general practice’.
Dr Paul Scott, chair of North Staffordshire LMC, said that part of the problem lies in the fact that the joint accountable officer could see NHS Stoke-on-Trent and NHS North Staffordshire CCGs, which are already merged, take on the debt of NHS East Staffordshire, NHS Stafford & Surrounds, NHS Cannock Chase and NHS South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula CCGs.
He said the two north Staffordshire CCGs have a deficit of £10m, while the CCGs in the south have a combined deficit of £150m and combining the deficits would be ‘hugely punitive to the more deprived north’.
Dr Van der Linden added: ‘One of the big anxieties have been is we don’t want to be part of the bigger organisation and then be asked to share the debt.
‘We have enough challenges as it is, if we have to carry their debt as well, that would make life even more complicated for us.’
Both NHS Stoke-on-Trent and NHS North Staffordshire CCGs were rated as ‘requires improvement’ by NHS England.
Of the other Staffordshire CCGs only NHS East Staffordshire was rated as good, with the rest requiring improvement.
Dr Scott said that LMC leaders fed back the results of the vote to the joint CCGs board, which has triggered another CCG ballot on Tuesday with caveats that the LMC on now supports.
A spokesperson for NHS Stoke on Trent and NHS Staffordshire CCGs said the CCGs ‘are still engaging with their membership regarding a potential move to appoint one AO for all of the county’s CCGs’.
He added: ‘Currently North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have a joint AO who is substantive with North Staffordshire and interim with Stoke-on-Trent, while Staffords & Surrounds, Cannock Chase, and South East Staffordshire & Seisdon Peninsula have a single interim AO.’