Bidders will have to navigate a two-stage application process to take part in the Department of Health's integrated care pilot scheme.

With publication of the final prospectus for the pilots due imminently, Department of Health director of commissioning Gary Belfield has revealed details of the system for assessing bids.

The application process has been designed in anticipation of a "very high number of bids" resulting from the "huge amount of interest" the programme has generated.

In a letter to potential applicants, Mr Belfield said the process would be split into two parts, with bidders first filling out an application form.

Shortlisted candidates would then face in-depth assessments, further evaluation and site visits.

Concern for freedom

Mr Belfield indicated that his team were working to clarify aspects of the final prospectus. Last month, HSJ reported that some potential participants were concerned there was not enough clarity about future freedoms for providers.

Mr Belfield said: "We have... been working hard over the past month to improve the prospectus and to make the aims and outcomes as clear as possible."