The special administrators of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust are to launch a “market engagement exercise” asking whether other providers - including in the private sector - would be interested in taking on its services, HSJ can reveal.

The exercise is designed to gauge the level of interest in running the services among other NHS providers, and those in the independent sector.

The “market engagement exercise” will be launched on Monday and allow providers to express their interest as part of administrators’ work to make the services clinically and financially sustainable.

In a statement on the launch of the exercise the special administrators - led by medical manager Hugo Mascie-Taylor and consultants Ernst & Young - said: “This market engagement exercise is intended to assess the potential capability of a range of providers to deliver these services and is not part of a procurement process.

“At this stage, the TSAs are solely seeking to obtain more detail on how providers could sustainably deliver a range of services currently provided by Mid Staffordshire.

“It does not imply that services currently delivered by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust will in the future be provided by an alternative provider.”

From Monday, a memorandum of information will be made available to providers along with data about the trust’s activity for them to consider.

Those taking part will be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement before receiving the information.

They will be asked to consider the full range of services currently provided by the foundation trust, and their proposals will need to include those services which have been identified as being required by local commissioners.

Providers will be able to propose a range of options including whether they would be willing to provide services in Stafford, Cannock or both.

Responses to the market assessment need to be submitted by 5pm on 14 May.

In February a review ordered by Monitor found the trust needed to make £53m savings and would need £73m in bailouts over the next five years to be solvent. It also has a shortage of specialists in accident and emergenct and general surgery, leading to questions over its clinical sustainability.

It is thought a small number of providers have already indicated an interest in delivering some Mid Staffordshire services as part of Monitor’s process of dealing with the failing provider.

The administrators have 45 working days to deliver a draft report to Monitor on the proposed future for services in Mid Staffordshire.

This is expected to be submitted to Monitor on the week beginning 24 June and will be subjected to a full consultation before Monitor makes recommendations to the health secretary.