With effect from this month, NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG will plan, organise and buy NHS funded healthcare for a combined population of almost one million people living in the area.
The merger will not change how individuals or families access services which will remain local and will ensure as much money as possible is spent providing quality, local services by doing things once instead of three times.
Felicity Cox, accountable officer for the new BLMK CCG and executive lead for the BLMK Integrated Care System said: “We are pleased to launch the new BLMK CCG, which brings three organisations together as one, allowing us to make better use of our resources, reduce duplication and spread good practice."
She added: "Over the last 18 months, the CCGs have already been working as one team as part of a system-wide effort to respond to the Covid pandemic and support delivery of the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS. This experience has demonstrated the real benefits that joint working can bring.
"As a single CCG we will continue to work more closely than ever before with our NHS Trusts, Local Authorities and other system partners, to reduce health inequalities and improve outcomes for the residents of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes and the communities we serve. The future is exciting as we look to build on the foundations we have laid in the last year.”
A new Governing Body consisting of GPs, Lay Members and Executive Directors has been recruited to lead the new organisation, taking up their posts with effect from today.
Dr Sarah Whiteman, a Bedfordshire resident and Milton Keynes GP, has been appointed Chair. Felicity Cox, current Accountable Officer for the three CCGs, will continue as AO for the new BLMK CCG and Executive Lead for BLMK Integrated Care System. Dr Edward Sivills has been appointed Interim BLMK Medical Director.
Dr Whiteman said: “The creation of the single CCG gives us a real opportunity to meet the wider healthcare needs of our communities, utilising the greater joint working across health and social care that has happened in response to the pandemic. In developing our plans to merge, we engaged with local people and stakeholders. We know how important it is to retain a local focus and strong clinical voice in each place, and we are committed to this as we look forward towards a more integrated future within the BLMK ICS.
“I truly believe these new ways of working across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes will help us realise our shared vision of improving the health and wellbeing of our population. I look forward to working with our new governing body, our residents and communities, staff and partner organisations to make this happen.”
But some people are not happy with the new arrangement. A source from MK Council told the Citizen: “Millions and millions of NHS funding, time and effort has been lost to perpetual reviews that achieve nothing. Any potential improvement ideas have been lost to a maze of jargon, a layer of tone deaf NHS administrators and an army of expensive consultants, all competing to justify their next expensive road to nowhere.
“Even most people who are close to this have lost track of all the structures and what they are supposed to be doing.
“The whole thing is now so totally impenetrable and complex as to be next to worthless, unless it’s part of your job to keep up the pretence something worthwhile is happening. What a waste of money!”