A health authority is to put a town's community nursing service out to tender despite claims by the current provider that it will cost managers £2.2m to shift the £6m contract.

Dudley health authority will select one trust in July from a seven-strong shortlist which includes current providers Dudley Priority Health trust.

Keith Salmon, the HA's director of nursing and quality, said trust chiefs had repeatedly failed to make changes called for by local fundholders and health managers. The trust denied this.

Trade union MSF condemned the plans, warning they may lead to a decline in services.

Mr Salmon admitted the government had expressed misgivings about the plans, 'but we explained that the decision was taken by GPs and the health authority, and we had looked at all the alternative options'.