A £235m contract to provide NHS musculoskeletal services for West Sussex has been awarded to a joint venture between health insurance company Bupa and a community services social enterprise.

The five year “prime provider” contract is due to start in January next year. It was put out to tender by Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.

It was won by Bupa CSH Ltd, a joint venture between Bupa UK and social enterprise CSH Surrey.

CSH Surrey was the first community healthcare social enterprise to be “spun out” of the NHS, in 2006. The West Sussex contract is the first Bupa and CSH have bid for jointly.

Current MSK services in the area are commissioned through separate contracts with several different providers, including Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust and Sussex Community Trust.

Western Sussex Hospitals’ commercial director, Mike Jennings, said the trust was disappointed with the commissioners’ decision.

He told HSJ: “The trust submitted a strong and realistic bid, in partnership with other NHS and not-for profit organisations to be the area’s prime provider, based on sound clinical expertise, direct patient feedback and our unique understanding of local communities and their healthcare needs.

“We are disappointed with the decision and have requested further details to understand the full impact for patients, staff and services, including trauma.”

The CCG designed a new clinical model last year to suit a single prime provider that would be accountable for a patient’s entire MSK treatment. Under prime provider models, the lead provider will typically subcontract aspects of the service to other providers.


Bupa CSH will be the lead provider responsible for all community and hospital MSK services

Bupa CSH will be the lead provider in West Sussex, responsible for all community and hospital MSK services and for overseeing the entire patient pathway. This includes community physiotherapy, triage services, rheumatology, chronic pain and elective orthopaedics.

The contract stipulates that there should be several community service locations provided so all patients can access the service.

The commissioners have said they want a more joined-up system where patients can be treated quicker. Patients have also called for the services to be more accessible and to have greater involvement in decisions about their treatment.

The clinical chief officer of Coastal West Sussex CCG, Katie Armstrong, said: “Our new partner impressed the evaluation panel by continuously demonstrating that the patient will be at the centre of everything they put in place.

“I am confident that once bedded in the new service will quickly deliver excellent quality and value and am encouraged that as we do, the provider will see their patients as partners in their care going forward.”

Sussex MSK Partnership, a consortium of four NHS providers that won a £210m contract in a neighbouring area of Sussex in April, had previously expressed an interest in bidding for the contract.

The CCG refused to reveal the unsuccessful bidders because the contract has not yet been signed.