Health bodies in north-west London say they want to "improve the offer of care" to patients as they consider merging into a single group. 

The eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the region – including Harrow and Brent CCGs – would form a single body if the suggestion is approved.

The NHS’ wider long-term plan seeks to reduce the number of CCGs as part of its plan to streamline services, reduce duplication and reduce administrative costs.

Dr Genevieve Small, chairman of Harrow CCG, said: “There is potential to reduce health inequalities and work more efficiently across the eight boroughs if we work as one organisation.”

She added all eight CCGs must first speak with local stakeholders about how the changes might work in practice.

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The group intends to present a full proposal to governing bodies later in the year and its ‘case for change’ admitted it currently “does not hold all the answers”.

It noted there will be different opinions, interests and priorities among different communities, while people often “identify with their borough rather than ‘north-west London’”.

Dr Madhukar Patel, chairman of Brent CCG, explained that to overcome this, any future group must maintain its ties with those at a local level.

He said: “No decisions have been made yet. At the moment, we are discussing the potential for operating as one organisation and the timing of any such change.

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“Whatever happens, we will retain a focus on managing key relationships at local level, working closely with GPs, local authorities, Healthwatch and the voluntary sector in each borough.”

Despite concerns about how the new system could work, the collaboration noted the number of CCGs will be cut.

Its chief officer Mark Easton explained that, at this stage, it is looking at how this could have a positive overall impact on staff, patients and local government.

He pointed out the CCGs in north-west London have a long history of working together and with other groups.

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He said: “We would of course retain a focus and a presence in each of the eight CCG areas and we would want local relationships and programmes to continue to be managed at local level.

“We are talking to local authority colleagues, provider trusts and local GPs about how we would continue to work together in future.

“In all of this, it is crucial that services remain accountable to local residents in each borough and that patients and the public have the chance to shape and feedback on health services.”