• Circle has said tender process does not provide a basis for delivering high quality care
  • It will consider legal action to challenge the process but has not provided more detail
  • The treatment centre contract has been reduced in value to £50m a year from £67m in 2017-18

Circle Health has pulled out of a bid to continue running services at the Nottingham Treatment Centre, and threatened clinical commissioning groups with legal action over their £150m three year procurement.

The company today issued a statement saying it had notified lead commissioner Rushcliffe CCG that it would be withdrawing from the tender process saying it does not provide a “sustainable basis” to deliver services at the treatment centre.

It said: “We now want to work with commissioners to ensure a fair, safe and sustainable service can continue for years to come at the Nottingham Treatment Centre. We will be exploring every possible option to make this happen, including legal challenge.”

The company did not provide any further detail on what specifically the focus of a possible legal challenge would be.

Clinical board members of Circle Nottingham said they unanimously supported the decision to challenge the current tender process and stressed it had not been taken lightly.

They said in a statement: “Unfortunately, we do not believe that the tender – as currently drafted – provides a sustainable way forward for high quality NHS services in Nottinghamshire.

“Our experience in providing care to NHS patients over the past decade in Nottingham suggests that the provisions of the tender would require any provider to make significant cuts that would not be sustainable in terms of either quality or finances. If this tender goes ahead in its current form, we believe NHS patients will lose out and other services in Nottinghamshire may be compromised.

“We are not aware of any meaningful public consultation prior to this tender with the local population who rely on the service. We want to change that and support Circle in exploring every option with commissioners, including formal legal challenge, for how we can work together to deliver the services Nottingham patients need.”

The Nottingham Treatment Centre opened in 2008 and the contract with Circle is worth more than £67m a year in 2017-18. It is currently being re-tendered with a decision due before the end of the summer.

Rushcliffe CCG has set the term for the new contract for three years with a value of £50m a year, which is substantially less than its current value.

The centre offers a variety of elective services including outpatients, surgery, diagnostic testing and pregnancy services.

Circle was selected as the preferred bidder to provide services from the treatment centre in 2013 with a £42m contract lasting five years.

The treatment centre has been blamed for causing problems at the nearby Nottingham University Hospitals Trust. In 2015 the trust’s UK renowned dermatology service collapsed when five consultants left rather than be transferred to the treatement centre.

It is understood by HSJ that Nottingham University Hospitals Trust could be among bidders for the treatment centre contract.

Greater Nottingham clinical commissioning partnership said: “The procurement has been advertised in accordance with procurement law and has had the benefit of extensive clinical input. The procurement is for a range of elective care treatments historically provided at the treatment centre.”

“Given that the opportunity has been advertised and that a competitive procurement is now underway involving a number of bidders, the commissioners have been advised that they should make no further comment at this stage,” it added.