COMMERCIAL Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has named private provider Circle as its preferred bidder to be prime contractor for its musculoskeletal integrated service.

The five-year £120m contract will see Circle organise the service which was previously handled by more than 20 separate contracts.

The commissioner said it was the first such integrated service in the country led by a prime contractor.

The contract will see Circle work in partnership with Pennine MSK, the developer of the original integrated model of musculoskeletal services in Oldham, as well as clinicians and charities.

Andy Edwards, a Biggleswade GP who has led the development of the plans for the CCG, said: ”I look forward to working with Circle and their partners in this exciting and innovative new venture and to seeing the benefits this new model will deliver in improved care for local patients and their families.

“As a local GP, I want my patients to have access to high quality, modern, integrated services as close to home as possible.

“This plan offers our population now and in the future this opportunity and by working together with patients, national and local experts we can see real improvements very quickly.

Circle chief executive Steve Melton said: “This new integrated approach is essential for the NHS to meet the growing challenge of delivering high quality care at an affordable cost. Bedfordshire CCG should be congratulated on their leadership in this area.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with local doctors and other healthcare professionals to join-up musculoskeletal service in Bedfordshire and help improve care for patients.”