Reducing differences in access to healthcare across Cheshire and Merseyside

Holding hands
Holding hands

Local areas make local decisions about how healthcare treatments are commissioned, which over time has resulted in some differences across Cheshire and Merseyside.

To address these differences, the NHS is reviewing its commissioning policies to see how they can be made the same across the region. The local areas involved are:

  • Cheshire East
  • Cheshire West
  • Halton
  • Knowsley
  • Liverpool
  • Sefton
  • St Helens
  • Warrington
  • Wirral

This work follows the formation of the new integrated care board, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside in July 2022, when it took over responsibility for commissioning healthcare treatments for the population of the area from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside is now responsible for reviewing clinical policies on a regular basis to make sure that changes in best clinical practice are considered, including the latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). This also means that any updates from new legislation or legal decisions can be made to existing policies. All clinical policies have a review date – usually two to three years after their adoption.

Professor Rowan Pritchard-Jones, medical director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said:

"Treatment policies are designed to provide fair, consistent, and transparent access to care for patients. Our treatment policies are currently being reviewed to ensure they are up to date using the best evidence, to support the best clinical outcomes for our patients across Cheshire and Merseyside.

"The policy review will make sure policies are fair and accessible for everyone across and consistently informed by the latest clinical evidence and nationally recommended best practice."

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside is currently in the process of reviewing all 112 existing CCG policies.

So far, polices for 49 treatments were found to be up to date with the latest evidence and guidance and were the same across all former CCG areas. These have now been harmonised into single, Cheshire and Merseyside wide policies for these 49 treatments.

The aims of this work are to ensure the quality and safety of patient care by:

  • freeing up valuable resources such as time to allow for more effective interventions
  • reducing harm or the risk of harm to patients
  • helping clinicians to maintain professional practice
  • encouraging innovation
  • maximising value and avoiding waste.

Taking place in stages, the review is now working to harmonise policies where variation exists between different areas of Cheshire and Merseyside.

The development process is rigorous and will include making sure patients and the public have the chance to contribute at the appropriate time should any changes be proposed to harmonise policies in later stages of this work. 

For further information about where we are in the process of clinical policy review and updates on finalised policies, click here.