TWO Wirral health chiefs have permanently “stepped down” from their posts on Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) following a critical review into its leadership and performance.

Chairman Dr Phil Jennings and the chief clinical officer Dr Abhi Mantgani voluntarily moved aside while an inquiry took place in to the authority, which is responsible for commissioning local NHS services for patients.

The “Capability and Governance Review” came after influential Birkenhead MP Frank Field wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt criticising the relationship between “senior members” of the organisation and Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and called for an inquiry into the matter.

Mr Field questioned the “strong bond” between the two organisations and claimed relationships between the two may have dented the “independence” and “integrity” of local health services.

As well as calling for a review of the CCG’s decision making process, Mr Field also asked for the inquiry to look at “the status of the chair and his eligibility to hold this post”.

He said he was concerned that decisions may have been taken “that do not reflect the will of all its members or the public”.

NHS England completed its probe and in a report published in September, highlighted how Wirral CCG had built in from the beginning a “bias against success”.

The review made a number of recommendations that focused on the development of a new constitution and stated that support from NHS England should continue. 

In line with the recommendations, Jon Develing - regional director of operations and delivery for NHS England North - remained as the interim accountable officer for Wirral CCG. 

Under his leadership, the recommendations of the NHS England review have now been addressed. 

Mr Develing has since returned to his duties with NHS England, with John Wicks – formerly interim accountable officer for Warrington – taking over the role.

But while the CCG said there is no need for any action in relation to Dr Mantgani’s capability or performance in his role as chief clinical officer, both he and Dr Jennings have “mutually agreed to stand down from their respective positions on a permanent basis”.

Wirral CCG’s acting chair Dr Pete Naylor said: “The review concluded that Wirral CCG had fundamental organisational design flaws which resulted from the consortia arrangements. 

“The primary recommendation of the report centred on a review of the CCG’s constitution.  The report does not cite any individual’s performance or capability as causative factors that the CCG needed to address.

He added: “The CCG would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Jennings and Dr Mantgani both in respect of the CCG and formerly with Wirral Primary Care Trust. We wish them both well for the future.

“The CCG will now elect and appoint new officers in due course.”

Birkenhead MP Frank Field said: “I’m pleased that the inquiry showed that we had a broken back constitution which made it very difficult for it to function and I’m pleased now that it has been and is being reformed.

“We now face this really big battle about how do we manage most effectively this very large health budget.

“The CCG will be able to perform so much better now it has got a constitution which will help it do so rather than make it more difficult.

“It will bring the different areas of Wirral together and the doctors of Wirral together.”