A clinical commissioning group has spent more than £1m developing and tendering one of the most high profile service restructures in the NHS.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG will have spent around £1.1m by next month on a project to reconfigure older people’s services, its response to a Freedom of Information request revealed.

The CCG is expected to announce next month the preferred bidder for its prime provider contract, which will be worth £800m over five years.

The FoI response said it was not possible to separate the cost of the procurement process from other project expenditure. The £1.1m figure included various elements “such as engagement, consultation, development of the outcome framework and other commissioning activities”.

“The overall costs of the older people programme, since inception, which includes the procurement, is £1.1m,” the CCG said.

The project has proved controversial with patients and providers and has had its start date postponed twice. Its second delay followed warnings from providers that services could be destabilised unless the timetable was extended. The new arrangements are now due to go live in April 2015 – a year after the originally intended start date.

There are three remaining bidders for the contract to lead the services. They are:

  • Care for Life – Care UK, Lincolnshire Community Health Services Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust;
  • Uniting Care Partnership – Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and Cambridge University Hospitals foundation trusts; and
  • Virgin Care.

The CCG said restructuring the services was a “high priority” because of the large and rapidly growing proportion of older people in its population. Arnold Fertig, clinical lead for the programme, said: “Funding for the programme is contained within the CCG’s running costs budget, and also needs to be viewed in the context of the overall value of a five year £800m contract.”

NHS finance experts have long raised concerns about the rising proportion of NHS budgets spent on competitive tendering processes since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 came into force.

Independent consultant and former NHS finance director Noel Plumridge told HSJ that competitive tendering was having a “cultural impact” on NHS organisations and it needed to be taken into account.

“In addition to the costs of competitive tendering, I’m struck by the impact it is having on frontline staff,” he said.

“They are finding themselves shifted between providers and as a result they are taking on a far more short term mindset which hardly encourages transformation.”