Health news: Councillor slams merger of Luton, Beds and Milton Keynes clinical commissioning groups as 'sham consultation'

Plans to merge Luton, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been slammed as a "fait accompli" and “sham consultation” by a Luton councillor.

Bosses from the combined Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) CCG presented their report at a meeting of Luton Borough Council’s health and social care review group.

CCGs are NHS organisations responsible for the planning and commissioning of health services in their areas.

But Labour South councillor David Agbley, who chairs the review group, appeared unimpressed.

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)

Councillor Agbley told the health bosses: “You’ve been to the other boroughs, and I know the Bedford mayor is saying he’s going to hold a referendum on this matter.

“It’s because he thinks you’re going to take away local decision-making.

“Milton Keynes are also saying the same thing that they don’t support this happening.

“If these elected people say they’re not going to support you and you want to carry on regardless, that means you’re doing a sham consultation.”

Director of performance and governance for the CCGs Geraint Davies said: “We’re not formally consulting on the merger because it’s not a change in service.

“The views from Bedford Borough are a loss of localism with a potentially merged CCG, and that’s similar to the concerns from Milton Keynes.

“We’ve been to Central Bedfordshire as well. They wanted assurance around the local focus and how we engage with local partners.

“So, it’s not about a sham exercise at all. If we can’t address what colleagues have raised as concerns then the merger may not happen.”

Director of clinical transmission, Dr Nina Pearson said: “This is a national direction for NHS England.

“This is how transformation money flows into NHS coffers to deliver for the needs of our population.

“There’s considerable opportunity that by working together, Luton, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes can secure very early on extra funding around mental health, diabetes, maternity care, primary care and development.

“We’ve been right at the front of queue to get that money. It’s only by working together we’ve achieved that.

“It’s about how you maximise the funding to meet the needs of our population.”

Director of primary care Nicky Poulain added: “It just saddens me when you say, 'it’s a sham.’ We’ve been continuously with you on this journey.”

Labour Limbury councillor Rob Roche said: “If this is the direction of travel, then I look at the representation. We have two Luton-based GPs on the governing body, we have a delivery of the local plan through the health and well-being board, we’ve a Luton-led executive through yourself Nicky, and a local scrutiny group still.

“I’m glad we’ve the representation required to keep the local focus there.”

But councillor Agbley was steadfast in his views of the proposal.

He said: “This has been presented to us as a fait accompli.

“We note the report and we will let the health and well-being board deal with it.”