England's smallest CCG is forced to merge

England's smallest clinical commissioning group (CCG) has accepted that it will not be authorised unless it merges into a larger organisation.

The Red House Group, a single-practice CCG in Hertfordshire, is to merge
The Red House Group, a single-practice CCG in Hertfordshire, is to merge

The Red House Group, a single-practice CCG in Hertfordshire covering three sites and 18,900 patients, has ceased to operate as a CCG and is now an ‘unaffiliated practice’.

Its SHA, NHS Midlands and East, ruled that it was too small to be authorised by the NHS Commissioning Board.

Practice manager Ken Spooner, who met prime minister David Cameron at a reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate it becoming one of the first CCGs in December 2010, said it wanted to remain independent.

But he added that the practice was being ‘realistic’ and had entered merger talks with Herts Valleys CCG.

Mr Spooner said: ‘We would clearly like to remain an independent CCG, that’s what our patients want, that’s what our clinicians want, but the Health Act specifically forbids this.

‘We have to try to come to an arrangement that allows us to keep the benefits of being an independent CCG while being part of a much larger CCG.

Read our Inside Commissioning blog for the latest thinking on redesigning healthcare

GP magazine is a media partner for Commissioning 2012, an event in London on 27-28 June featuring over 700 GPs and primary care managers. Speakers are expected to include health secretary Andrew Lansley and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.

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