FINANCE: A multi-million pound tender process for development support for commissioning consortia across London has been “suspended indefinitely”.

NHS London, which initiated the tender in February, has confirmed the suspension is due to challenges to the tender process from “unsuccessful bidders”.

Early this year NHS London began a competition to join a list of “approved suppliers” for leadership and organisational development.

The strategic health authority was close to listing six providers, it said, before receiving complaints and suspending the decision while seeking legal advice.

Sources involved in the process estimated the value of contracts could add up to £6m. NHS London said it would total less than £10m. A provider involved in the bidding told HSJ the long process was an example of poor NHS procurement.

An NHS London spokesman said: “Following challenges from a small number of bidders, we have decided to extend the standstill period in our procurement process.” He said the tender would resume “once we are sure the process is open, transparent and fair”.

NHS London also confirmed the money for the tender would come from the region’s £1bn multi-professional education and training budget, rather than management funds for emerging commissioning consortia.

PCTs have been told to allow at least £2 per head of population for development of consortium management during 2011-12.

The current tender follows the award of the contract last year by NHS London to a KPMG led partnership to help develop eight emerging consortia. That three month contract cost £616,719 and the work finished in March.