The Governing Bodies of the five NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk and Waveney, at their meetings in public this week, each agreed to submit an application to NHS England and Improvement to merge by April 2020.

Each considered the comments and feedback from about 250 people who responded to an online survey. In addition, the 105 GP practices which form the membership of the CCGs were also asked to formally vote on the proposal. 79 votes were cast and 72 voted in favour (91%), which is regarded as a very high ‘turnout’ and a high positive response.

If NHS England and Improvement supports the application in principle, the CCGs would begin the formal process to come together and create “NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group”, from the beginning of April 2020.

CCGs are responsible for commissioning most NHS healthcare, which involves planning what services are appropriate for the local area, holding contracts with organisations such as hospitals to provide treatment to patients and monitoring quality and performance.

Together the CCGs serve a population approaching 1.1 million people, and have a budget of £1.6 billion which pays for much of the health care that local people receive.

Chief Officer Melanie Craig, said: “Our CCGs have achieved much since they came into being in 2013 and we are absolutely determined that this will be strengthened and built upon, with locally-focussed commissioning of health services and strong leadership and guidance from doctors and nurses.”

The clinical Chairs of the five CCGs said: “We have been united in our belief that creating one large CCG will help us address some of the bigger issues in Norfolk and Waveney, such as demand on our hospitals and improving quality of services.

“Every CCG has delivered innovative and exciting improvements for our patients since 2013 and these are vital to our future as one strong CCG with distinct localities.”

Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt is the independent Chair of the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership of local health and care organisations. She said: “I strongly believe that as a system-wide CCG, it can make an even greater impact to transform services, improve care for patients and help them achieve better health and wellbeing.”

Papers relating to the Governing Bodies meetings held in public are on each CCG’s website.

The decision by NHS England and NHS Improvement on whether to support the application in principle will be made public as soon as it is known, expected towards the end of October.