HEALTH leaders in charge of Wyre Forest's £127 million NHS budget have marked a year since the launch of the district's Clinical Commissioning Group.

CCG's came into force after the passing of the coalition Government's 2012 health bill and replaced Primary Care Trusts as the bodies which choose and purchase health services for their given area.

The Wyre Forest group serves a population of 112,000 patients and is accountable to the district's 12 GP practices.

Health campaigner and former Wyre Forest MP Dr Richard Taylor, who has been critical of the Government bill which created CCGs, said Wyre Forest had benefitted from the group so far.

"I have been critical of the Government and the huge changes they have made to the NHS but I have no complaint about the way our own CCG is working," he said. "They appear to me to know what they are doing and I have no complaints and I am keeping pushing that what we need is better services for common, simple emergencies at Kidderminster and I believe they are on our side for that.

"Our own CCG looks at the interests of Wyre Forest as well as the whole county where as before [the PCT] was simply a Worcestershire body. It is to the advantage of Wyre Forest people. That does not take away from the criticism of the whole health act pushing the NHS towards privatisation but our own CCG has made active steps to avoid privatising local enhanced service.

"They have agreed to keep this in the NHS which is a splendid step."

Dr Simon Rumley, who took over from Dr Simon Gates as chairman and chief clinical lead of the group last December, said: "It has been an extremely busy year for the CCG and the NHS as a whole. We've made some real progress in the past year and aim to build on this progress over the next 12 months.

"Our aim is to make sure everyone can enjoy the same opportunities for good health. We also want to ensure our local population has access to the very best health services, from an NHS which is fit to cope with future demands."

He boasted the CCG had "much to celebrate", including improvement in standards of care for patients in care homes, highlighted when winning an Acorn award from the NHS Alliance. The CCG was named number one in the country for palliative care by Public Health England's national end of life intelligence network in a report.

He added the group had managed to remain in financial balance, despite increasing financial pressure during its first year and hoped to develop new ideas for the future.