Monitor has revealed its investigation into the commissioning of cancer services in Manchester will focus on whether competition rules were breached.

The regulator has decided to focus its investigation on whether NHS England and local providers complied with procurement, patient choice and competition regulations introduced in April, and whether the selection process for future providers is in keeping with the rules.

HSJ previously reported that University Hospital of South Manchester and Stockport foundation trusts, complained in August to Monitor that NHS England and local providers had breached procurement and competition rules introduced in April.

It is understood that the subjects of the complaint are Central Manchester University Hospitals and Salford Royal foundation trusts. The complaint is thought to refer to a reconfiguration process earlier in the year which resulted in a recommendation that Stockport should lose its urology services and South Manchester its gastro-intestinal work.

The complaint relates to the selection process for providers of gynaecological, urological, hepato-pancreatico-biliary and oesophageal cancer surgery services. The complainants argue that the selection of providers was not based on “the quality of services, patient outcomes and patient preferences”.

Any actions that took place prior to April of this year will be assessed under the Principles and Rules for Cooperation and Competition, the previous competition regulations.  

Catherine Davies, Monitor’s director of cooperation and competition, said: “We have thought carefully about the matters raised by both complainants and used our prioritisation criteria to decide how best to use our resources in continuing this investigation in the interest of patients.”

She added: “We are today publishing a statement of issues that provides an update on our investigation so far, and welcome views from interested parties and others about our proposed way forward.”

Both Stockport and South Manchester declined to comment.