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Sandwell GPs vote on radical plans to split CCG

By George Makin | Sandwell | Health | Published:

Health care services managed between Sandwell and Birmingham face being spilt up - which risks the delay-hit Midland Metropolitan Hospital, says its chief executive.

The Midland Metropolitan Hospital site, in Smethwick

Doctors in Sandwell are set to vote on radical plans to reorganise primary health care in the borough and Birmingham – by potentially splitting the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The GPs in Sandwell and West Birmingham will decide this week whether to back what is said to be the biggest reorganisation in the region since 2011.

They are being asked to choose three options which could change how services like surgeries, dentists and pharmacists are governed – by breaking away and joining a new CCGs for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Currently, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG oversees and pays for primary care services in Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton, Wednesbury, West Bromwich and parts of Birmingham.

NHS England (NHSE) is backing a plan for the areas outside of the Sandwell borough to be transferred to Birmingham and Solihull CCG.

But the plans have been criticised by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Hospital Trust – with bosses warning that changes could impact on the much-delayed £350 million Midland Metropolitan Hospital, in Smethwick, which has only just started reconstruction.

Toby Lewis

It had stood empty since January 2018 when Carillion went bust.

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In April, the hospital trust warned that changes to the boundary would impact on how services were provided at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital – when it is finally due to open in 2022, three years late.

Toby Lewis, chief executive of the trust, in a report to his board of governors said: “It remains our strong view that any such hard border proposal is a red rated risk to the coherence of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital business case.

“This is because such a division of responsibility will necessarily drive divergent clinical pathways for the same population using the site.”

In November, Birmingham council’s health and social care overview committee wrote to NHSE saying that a single CCG was needed across the city.

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It said: “An essential pre‐requisite for effective integration is that both NHS and the local authority can operate within a single integrated footprint. Failure to do this will mean that we are storing up serious problems for the future.”

This week, GP practices will be able to vote on three options – Sandwell and West Birmingham remaining as it is; all primary care services merging with Birmingham and Solihull CCG; or splitting in two with Sandwell health services joining a new Black Country-wide health body.

The results of the vote will then be considered when a final decision is taken by Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG at its board meeting next week.

George Makin

By George Makin
@GeorgePMakin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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