The Care Quality Commission has ‘paused’ its search for new organisations to recruit, train and manage inspectors with personal experience of health and social care just a month after the service was put out to tender.

The delay was announced in an email circulated to bidders in late June which suggested the procurement would only restart once the terms of the tender had been cleared with the Department of Health.

Senior CQC managers were currently in discussions both internally and with DH officials, the email added.

“We believe it is sensible for those conversations to be finalised before coming back to you”, it said.

The four year contract was put out to tender in May with the view that new providers would start work in January. Current providers have now had their contracts extended until the end of March.

The voluntary organisations that win the contract will be expected to source, train and manage the “experts by experience” who will have either used services directly or cared for a service user.

The number of inspections involving these experts has increased dramatically from 1,408 in 2012-13 to 4,481 in 2013-14.

HSJ understands that the CQC was also urged to delay the procurement process by the healthcare consumer champion Healthwatch England.

A spokeswoman for the consumer body said its local healthwatch branches had “expressed a concern” about the tight deadlines of the CQC procurement as they were interested in bidding for the work.

A CQC spokesman said the pause was unrelated to Healthwatch England’s intervention.

“Although we have had some initial contact with potential providers over the new tender progress, we have paused that process until we confirm our likely requirements beyond 2015. We aim to complete this work as quickly as possible,” he said.