Nearly 50 clinical commissioning groups will have to decide over the next month how they will access essential support services after NHS England decided their existing providers had no future.

NHS England has chosen not to admit two commissioning support units on to a key procurement framework, casting doubt over their future and the fate of their 2,200 staff.

North West CSU, which serves CCGs in Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester, and Yorkshire and Humber CSU were unsuccessful in their bids for accreditation to provide the full range of “end to end” support services.

In 2013-14 their combined turnover was £183m. The CSUs collectively serve 47 CCGs.

The following end to end providers will be included on the framework:

  • North of England CSU;
  • South East CSU;
  • Greater East Midlands and Arden CSU;
  • Midlands and Lancashire CSU;
  • North and East London CSU;
  • South CSU, South West CSU and Central Southern CSU;
  • Capita;
  • Optum; and
  • MBED - a consortium of Mouchel, BDO, Engine and Dr Foster.

Optum’s bid includes a supply chain that features a range of other companies, including KPMG and BT.

Two local authorities, NHS Shared Business Services and a one further private bidder were invited to tender in August but were unsuccessful.

All bidders were briefed on the outcome on 23 January, and the decisions were due to be published yesterday to allow for a mandatory “standstill” period.

It is now highly likely that the 47 customer CCGs of the two unsuccessful CSUs will have to stop using them and will plan alternative arrangements.

The CCGs will now be allowed into the framework’s first wave of procurement, which will begin this month. Three more tranches of procurements will follow between April and September.

However, the 47 CCGs will not be forced to use the framework. They may decide to bring some services in-house, share functions between themselves, or conduct their own procurement. HSJ understands arrangements are unlikely to be finalised for several months because of the complexity of the task.

NHS England now aims to ensure continuity of service for the affected CCGs. The authority will establish two “transition boards” for North West, and Yorkshire and Humber CSUs to manage the process, to ensure existing services are stable in the run-up to transfer to other providers and to encourage CCGs to act collectively to ensure services remain viable.

It is also keen to minimise costs such as redundancy payouts and buying out contracts with external suppliers.

Although their bids to supply end to end services failed, Yorkshire and Humber and North West CSUs both won accreditation to another part of NHS England’s procurement framework.

The following suppliers were accredited to Lot 2A - covering medicines management services:

  • Capita
  • Arden CSU and Greater East Midlands CSU
  • Central Southern CSU
  • Midlands and Lancashire CSU
  • North and East London CSU
  • North of England CSU
  • South East CSU
  • Optum.

This is the list of suppliers who successfully bid to Lot 2B - to provider services relating to continuing healthcare and individual funding requests.

  • Arden CSU and Greater East Midlands CSU
  • Central Southern CSU
  • Midlands and Lancashire CSU
  • North and East London CSU
  • North of England CSU
  • North West CSU
  • South East CSU
  • South CSU and South West CSU
  • Yorkshire and Humber CSU and Attain.

However, this success will not be sufficient to guarantee the long term viability of the overwhelming majority of services provided by North West or Yorkshire and Humber CSUs, and will therefore not be enough to ensure the survival of the CSUs in their current form.