FEARS over Halton and Warrington clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) merging have been dismissed by a health chief.

Halton MPs Mike Amesbury and Derek Twigg have asked for reassurance after the clinical chief officer of Warrington CCG Dr Andrew Davies has been appointed as interim officer in Halton.

Weaver Vale MP Mr Amesbury, who represents Runcorn, said: “I recently met with Dr Andrew Davies and I was assured that the concerns I had heard regarding rumoured merger plans were unfounded.

“This public confirmation is welcome but local health bosses and the government need to be aware that should such a merger be considered in the future, it will be met with major opposition from myself, residents and colleagues.”

Dr Davies said: “Historically, NHS Halton and NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have a long established working relationship.

"We share the same main acute provider trust, community and mental health providers and a number of clinical pathways, so it makes sense for us to share what we have in terms of expertise and knowledge for the benefit of local people in both boroughs.

“To be very clear, there are no plans to merge the CCGs. The interim arrangements support the management of business at each of the CCGs and each organisation still retain their sovereignty, separate governance arrangements and importantly a local focus.

“We are confident that the interim joint working arrangements will not impact negatively on local people and that the working relationships across both boroughs will benefit local people as we bring together our expertise, making best use of the resources we have and, where possible, do things once to create capacity to do more.

“As always, ensuring that local people receive the best possible health care services remains at the heart of all we do”.

Warrington MP Helen Jones added: "The questions my colleague Derek Twigg and I have asked have shown that our chief officer is now spending 50 per cent of his time in Halton.

"This means that neither borough has a full time chief officer.

"Answers from the Government indicate that the decision to appoint Dr Davies was made by the leadership team of Halton CCG but I am not reassured by the statement that his time is split equally between both CCGs."