Three CCGs in Newcastle and Gateshead are likely to complete a merger next month after announcing plans to do so earlier this year.
Earlier this year a CCG lead standing down from his role predicted that commissioning groups could be forced to merge to stand up to powerful NHS hospital trusts.
Data from think tank the King's Fund has shown that CCGs are increasingly struggling to maintain financial balance as real-terms NHS funding cuts hit home.
Financial savings a key factor
Financial considerations are a key factor behind the merger plans in Kent. The CCGs involved hope to save more than £500,000 in operating costs from the merger, and close to £250,000 from reduced staff costs. The planned reduction in external commissioning support costs alone would save more than £300,000.
A report on the merger, in addition to setting out the potential savings, said bringing the two CCGs together would increase 'leverage over providers' and simplify commissioners' relationships with Kent's health and wellbeing board and hospitals.
A spokeswoman for NHS Ashford CCG and NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG, said: 'We are in the early stages of exploring the possibility of a merger. Key reasons for this include strengthening clinical involvement, removing duplication of effort across the two CCGs and being proactive in our management of any future financial riskexpols.
'No decision has yet been made. We will not progress the idea unless we have support from our member practices, council colleagues, MPs and patient groups.'