STRUCTURE: Cambridgeshire Community Services Trust’s bid for a £800m older people’s services contract for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has been rejected, while implementation of the project has been delayed by six months.

The trust, which is the main current provider of the services affected by the tender, had jointly bid for the contract with Optum, formerly UnitedHealth UK.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, which is tendering the integrated older people’s contract, announced the bidders which had reached the final stage of its process on Thursday.

Matthew Winn, the trust’s chief executive, said he was “disappointed” the joint submission was not successful.

He said the trust would remain viable without the contract, however. He said: “CCS is providing a wide range of high quality services across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Luton and Suffolk outside the scope of the above procurement and will therefore remain a viable ‘going concern’.

“The Trust Development Authority, to which we are accountable, supports our ongoing involvement in all the procurements it is currently bidding for and any future procurements that are in line with our strategic direction.”

Cambridgeshire had previously submitted a bid for the same contract jointly with the outsourcer Capita and private health firm Circle, but that consortium withdrew its bid in October citing “affordability” concerns.

The four bidders which have made it to the final stage are:

  • Accord Health (Interserve with Provide, formerly Central Essex Community Services, and North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust as mental health lead)
  • Care for Life (Care UK with Lincolnshire Community Health Services Trust, and Norfolk Community Health & Care Trust)
  • Uniting Care Partnership (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust with Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust)
  • Virgin Care Ltd

They are now expected to develop and refine the proposals they submitted in January. The preferred bidder will be selected in September, with the contract beginning in January 2015. It had previously been due to start in July this year.

Arnold Fertig, the CCG’s clinical lead for the older people’s programme said: “We have reviewed the original timelines to take into account our preferred option for public consultation and to ensure there is enough time for development of full bidder submissions.”

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG chief clinical officer Neil Modha said: “It is important to stress that whoever is awarded this NHS contract to deliver integrated older people’s pathway and adult community services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, care will remain NHS-funded, provided under an NHS contract and free at the point of delivery.”

Serco withdrew its interest in the tender last year, as did North Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, and Albion Care Alliance CIC, an alliance of mutuals.