Scores of private consultancy and insurance firms are vying to win a place on a list of companies government-sanctioned to manage commissioning for primary care trusts.

Scores of private consultancy and insurance firms are vying to win a place on a list of companies government-sanctioned to manage commissioning for primary care trusts.

In a move likely to spark controversy, the Department of Health has invited bids from firms which want to appear on an approved list of suppliers of management services.

PCTs will use the list to contract management support on commissioning-related functions - from finance to 'the purchasing of community

and primary care services'. Companies that are signed up to the 'framework agreement' will agree to a standardised price for their services.

The invitation to tender says explicitly that companies will not receive any 'guarantee' of value or volume of work as the procurement is designed to 'make PCT management services available to PCTs...meaning that the actual number of PCTs using the service will depend on decisions of PCTs themselves'.

PCT boards are expected to consider bringing in 'management services' to run core functions rated red under the DoH PCT fitness-for-purpose assessment programme.

There is likely to be opposition from unions, which last year defeated an attempt by Thames Valley strategic health authority to put management of its PCTs out to tender.