Healthier Together, the body reviewing healthcare services in the region, has announced decisions will now be made at a local level.
Paul Hassan, the body’s chairman, announced the move in response to what it called a changing picture of NHS services in the South-East Midlands.
Among the factors mentioned were talks between Kettering and Northampton general hospitals over a potential merger.
He said those discussions meant it was sensible if the next stage of the review was carried out by local GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
Dr Hassan said: “CCGs are well placed, given their clinical expertise and knowledge of local services, patient experiences and community views, to ensure that recommendations from the programme’s clinical and patient-led working groups are translated into local public consultations.”
But he also insisted the review would continue, saying: “What remains constant in this changing NHS picture is the firm belief of local NHS leaders that the status quo is not clinically sustainable and a commitment to providing the best possible services for local patients.”
Dr Peter Wilczynski, chairman-designate of NHS Corby CCG, denied the change in focus amounted to a collapse of the Healthier Together review.
He said: “We are thinking about how we can best organise the services across Northamptonshire. It’s a local focus and local hospitals and community services working together to deliver the best possible healthcare for our patients.
“We will still have to work together to commission more complex services across the South-East Midlands.”
Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Andy Sawford said: “The idea that people in Bedford or Milton Keynes should determine what was best for us was an ill-conceived idea.
“My concern is the Healthier Together review has already cost a lot of money, time and potentially goodwill.”
But Dr Wilczynski said: “The original programme was not a waste of time or money. We are building upon that.”