The appetite of clinical commissioning groups to take control of their support service suppliers has dwindled, NHS England has claimed today.

Speaking this morning at the Commissioning Show in London, Bob Ricketts, NHS England’s director for commissioning support strategy and market development, said there was “a lot of interest among commissioning support units in [becoming] staff mutuals and social enterprises”.

“That’s where I guess I would put most of my money if I was betting on it,” he said.

CSUs have to become independent of NHS England by the end of 2016.

The agency outlined four potential options for CSU autonomy at the beginning of 2014: a staff owned mutual; a social enterprise; a joint venture company limited by shares; and a CCG controlled option.

Mr Ricketts said: “Last year there was a lot of interest among CCGs for customer control. That seems to have evaporated a bit.”

Guidance on the options for autonomy of CSUs is expected to be published in late July, along with details on the consultation process CSUs will have to go through to become independent.

Mr Ricketts also said that CSUs, which do not gain accreditation to NHS England’s lead provider framework for support services, will not be able to become independent.

This framework aims to assure quality and accredit a range of support service providers, which either individually or through partnerships offer a full range of commissioning support services.

CSUs would face a “crunch point” towards the end of this year when the lead provider framework procurement reached its invitation to tender stage, Mr Ricketts added.

NHS England would focus on ensuring a CSU’s service continued if it did not reach this stage, he said.