Monitor has closed its investigation into the commissioning of specialist cancer surgery services in Greater Manchester and Cheshire, after NHS England said it would change its process.

The health sector regulator launched the investigation in August after University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust and Stockport Foundation Trust complained that the process NHS England had used to select providers was not based on quality or patient preference.

Monitor decided to close the case after NHS England said it would develop a new service specification and process.

A statement announcing the decision today said the regulator had been “concerned the process being followed would not lead to the best hospitals being selected to deliver care to patients”.

The process “might arbitrarily limit the number of options available to commissioners” and “unfairly exclude hospitals which offer a better service to patients”.

In late 2012, providers in the region came together to form the “Greater Manchester Services Provider Board” to oversee a reconfiguration of cancer surgery services onto a smaller number of sites.

South Manchester and Stockport believed the board’s process had not been fair.

The former trust claimed it was not given sufficient notice of elements of the judging criteria, and that some other providers had the information at an earlier stage.

Stockport claimed one of the provider board’s criteria – that services should be delivered by a trust with university teaching hospital status – unfairly counted against them.

NHS England has now told Monitor it would become “solely responsible for all decisions taken in relation to the Greater Manchester commissioning process”, and that the provider board would be “retained in a consultative capacity only”, according to the regulator’s statement.

The service specification requirements which the two trust complained about will be dropped from the future process.

A competitive tender to procure urological and upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery services will start next month. A contract for liver, pancreas and gall bladder cancer surgery services will be awarded to Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust, the statement said.

No decision has yet me made about the future of gynaecology cancer surgery services.