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A single Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) responsible for the planning and provision of NHS funded healthcare across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes came into operation on 1st April 2021.

Following the merger of the three CCGs in the area, the single CCG – NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) – will now serve a population of almost one million people.

By merging the three CCGs into one group, the move is set to offer more integrated care by focusing on closer partnership working with local authorities and other system partners, which could include mobility equipment suppliers.

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Felicity Cox, Accountable Officer for the BLMK CCG and Executive Lead for the BLMK Integrated Care System (ICS), said on the day: “Today we launch the new BLMK CCG, which brings three organisations together as one, allowing us to make better use of our resources, reduce duplication and spread good practice.

“Over the last 18 months, the CCGs have already been working as one team as part of a system-wide effort to respond to the Covid pandemic and support delivery of the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS. This experience has demonstrated the real benefits that joint working can bring.

“As a single CCG we will continue to work more closely than ever before with our NHS Trusts, Local Authorities and other system partners, to reduce health inequalities and improve outcomes for the residents of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes and the communities we serve. The future is exciting as we look to build on the foundations we have laid in the last year.”

A new Governing Body consisting of GPs, Lay Members and Executive Directors has been recruited to lead the new organisation.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, a Bedfordshire resident and Milton Keynes GP, has been appointed Chair.

Felicity Cox, current Accountable Officer for the three CCGs, will continue as AO for the new BLMK CCG and Executive Lead for BLMK Integrated Care System.

Dr Edward Sivills has been appointed Interim BLMK Medical Director. Dean Westcott has also been appointed as the new Chief Finance Officer and ICS Executive Finance Lead, commencing on 1 June 2021.

Dr Whiteman commented: “The creation of the single CCG gives us a real opportunity to meet the wider healthcare needs of our communities, utilising the greater joint working across health and social care that has happened in response to the pandemic. In developing our plans to merge, we engaged with local people and stakeholders.

“We know how important it is to retain a local focus and strong clinical voice in each place, and we are committed to this as we look forward towards a more integrated future within the BLMK ICS.

“I truly believe these new ways of working across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes will help us realise our shared vision of improving the health and wellbeing of our population. I look forward to working with our new governing body, our residents and communities, staff and partner organisations to make this happen.”

At the beginning of the year, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) set out guidance reinforcing that CCG mergers should still go ahead for April 2021 in preparation for ICSs covering the whole of England, with typically one CCG covering each ICS area.

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