POLITICIANS and health chief are locked on collision course over plans to merge two NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Managers are considering combining Halton and Warrington CCGs into a single body to cut costs and streamline the service by reducing duplication.

But the proposal has caused an outcry.

READ: MPs fear merger could see Halton hospice axed

Last week MPs Derek Twigg and Mike Amesbury wrote a joint letter to Dr Andrew Davies, chief executive of Halton CCG, urging him to drop the idea.

The MPs made clear they view the proposal of a "merger" as actually a takeover by Warrington.

They believe this would be "detrimental to the people of Halton."

Now councillors from Halton's ruling Labour group have joined the fray saying they too are "absolutely opposed" to the plan.

Group leader Cllr Rob Polhill has also sent a letter to Dr Davies, which has been seen by the Runcorn and Widnes World.

Councillor Polhill agrees with the MPs saying: "We do not believe that this is a merger, we believe it to be a takeover of Halton CCG by Warrington."

He said the Labour group "fully supports Derek Twigg and Mike Amesbury in their joint opposition to your plans. 

"We categorically believe the merger of Halton CCG with Warrington CCG would only be detrimental to the people of Halton.

"We believe Halton must continue to have its own health body - and that it must not be swallowed up by Warrington.

"Further, we are appalled at how this process has been carried out with decisions already seeming to have been made by the CCGs before the public have had their say and without the views of Halton council being considered."

He writes NHS guidance states: “In all cases, in line with the legal requirements, the existing CCGs must demonstrate...they have effectively consulted with the relevant local authorities, record what the local authorities’ views are and the CCGs’ observations on those views."

"It is our position that the CCG have not 'effectively' consulted with Halton Council and have therefore not followed due process," said Cllr Polhill.

In a statement, Halton CCG said: "We can confirm that NHS Halton CCG has received the letter and will provide a formal response.

"However, we would also like to provide assurance that none of the proposed changes affect patient facing services in any way. 

"The proposals refer to changes that are restricted to the CCG Governance and corporate, back office functions.

"Patients will not see a difference, services will remain local, nothing is going to close, move or change as a result of the proposals.

"Both Halton and Warrington have a very strong patient and public voice and processes to make sure that the wants and needs of local people are met and this will not change. 

"Each area is developing well with regards to local integrated commissioning, with a very local borough based focus on ‘place’. 

"Again this will not change and we believe that this will in fact be strengthened as we progress the integration of commissioning across the CCG and each Local Authority.

"We would also like to provide clarity that whilst the term 'merger' is used, in reality this option means that both NHS Halton CCG and NHS Warrington CCG will cease to exist and both CCGs will be collapsed down and a new CCG would emerge. 

"It is not a case of one becoming the other.

"In terms of the NHS Guidance and consulting with the Local Authority, we can confirm that meetings have taken place since July with the CCG Chief Clinical Officer and the Leader of the Council. 

"As agreed with the Leader of the Council, we met with local Councillors at a Health Seminar yesterday to discuss this matter further.

"The Local Authority have advised that we will receive their formal response on September 20, 2019. 

"We have provided the Local Authority with assurance that the formal response that they are providing will be included in the final case for change that will be presented to the CCG membership for them to make a decision after September 20 2019."