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A fifth of CCGs to merge

Large numbers of clinical commissioning groups are planning to merge in the coming months after coming under strong pressure from PCTs and local authorities to revise their size and borders, survey respondents report.

The findings of the survey, conducted by Pulse and commissioned by management consultancy Kurt Salmon and solicitors DMH Stallard, prompted a leading proponent of commissioning to warn ‘bullying of GPs’ was damaging confidence in the reforms.

One GP in five, of 400 respondents to the survey, said their CCG was planning to merge with a neighbour or neighbours, while 46% said the CCG would keep the same borders and the rest didn’t know.

Some 24% reported the CCG had been forced to reconsider its borders after pressure from the PCT or local authority, with 47% saying they were not having to rethink.

Overall, two-thirds of respondents expected their CCG to take over statutory responsibility for commissioning at or before April 2013, but a third expected delays at their CCG, with 15% not expecting it to have taken on duties by April 2014.

Dr Michael Dixon chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said he was alarmed at the numbers of CCGs being ‘bullied’ into changing: ‘I have heard of a lot of cases where CCGs are coming under undue pressure to merge and really it is putting the cart before the horse. The most important thing in this process is to build and maintain the confidence of GPs and that will not happen if we allow PCTs or anyone else to bully them into arrangements they don’t want.’