An academic health science network is bidding for a multimillion pound Department of Health procurement contract, HSJ understands.

Senior sources have told HSJ that Oxford AHSN is bidding for one of the procurement “category towers” being contracted out by the DH.

In December, the Department of Health invited bidders for 10 contracts to run the towers, which would in turn organise procurement of goods for trusts across England.

The towers cover areas including “ward based consumables”, “hotel services” and “large diagnostic capital devices including mobile and consumables”.

The contracts to run them are worth between £12.5m and £30m over five years. Management of the towers totals £190m in value.

The deadline to submit bid documents is 19 June.

The move is part of a push by the DH and NHS Improvement to get savings from NHS procurement following the Carter review of hospital efficiency.

Lord Carter backed the DH’s procurement transformation programme that committed the acute sector to saving 10 per cent of non-pay costs by April 2018.

The success of previous efficiency targets in procurement is unclear.

The current logistics contract between the NHS Business Services Authority, an arm’s length body of the DH, and NHS Supply Chain, which is co-owned by the DH and logistics firm DHL, is due to come to an end in September 2018.

AHSNs were set up in 2013 and are intended to speed up the adoption of best practice, “build a culture of partnership and collaboration”, and “create wealth through co-development, testing, evaluation and early adoption and spread of new products and services”.

The networks work with businesses, NHS trusts and commissioners, and local authorities.

A spokesman for Oxford AHSN said the organisation would make no comment “at this time”.

It is not known which tower the AHSN is bidding for. Applicants will not be allowed to run more than three.

HSJ understands a letter sent to the Shelford Group confirms the AHSN is bidding. The group brings together the 10 most prestigious teaching hospital trusts in England and has forums covering finance, nursing, leadership and procurement

A spokesman for the Shelford Group said it would not be commenting “at this time”.

Meanwhile, NHS Improvement is currently looking to recruit four regional procurement directors.