Negotiations are taking place to establish a private provider led consortium to take on a 10 year, £687m contract to integrate cancer services in Staffordshire.

  • Commissioners asked trusts and private providers to form consortium for cancer contract, sources tell HSJ
  • £687m contract to integrate services is part of wider £1.2bn tender in Staffordshire
  • Discussions for NHS and independent providers to work together are “ongoing”

Sources close to the procurement, part of a wider £1.2bn cancer and end of life care tender by four Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups, have told HSJ the discussions were prompted after commissioners made clear their preference for a consortium to lead as a prime provider across the county.

This led to the two NHS trusts, University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust and the Royal Wolverhampton Trust, and three remaining private bidders – Interserve Investments, Optum (formerly UnitedHealth UK) and CSC – to consider withdrawing their standalone bids and instead forming a consortium. Sources said this could be led by Interserve Investments.

HSJ understands no final decision has been made but it is expected both trusts will not pursue individual competitive bids for the contract.

Breast cancer radiology

The cancer pathways contract could be awarded by the end of this year

One source with knowledge of the process told HSJ: “The NHS trusts withdrew when it became clear the CCGs wanted a private sector provider. The trusts are being asked by the CCGs to work in partnership with the private sector providers.”

None of the bidders, which were revealed by HSJ in November, were prepared to comment on the developments today.

The cancer pathways contract could be awarded by the end of this year while the end of life pathway, worth £535m, has been delayed until 2016.

Virgin Care, CSC, Health Management, Interserve Investments and Optum were named as bidders for the end of life care contract.

It is unclear whether this second contract will also be steered towards a private provider led consortium but both deals will last for 10 years.

Commissioners have said the programme is designed to improve care in cancer and end of life pathways across acute and commuity services through a better integration of services. The prime providers will be responsible for delivering outcomes by providing services themselves or subcontracting them to others and ensuring they meet requirements.

In an interview with HSJ last year Dr Jonathan Shapiro, director of clinical engagement for the procurement, said: “I think it will almost certainly be a consortium and the main bidder will need to demonstrate they have the other organisations around them and the infrastructure to deliver.”

The four Staffordshire CCGs in the Transforming Cancer and End of Life Care Programme are North Staffordshire, Stafford and Surrounds, Cannock Chase, and Stoke on Trent. The programme also involves Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS England, Public Health England, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke on Trent City Council.

A spokeswoman for the programme told HSJ no decisions had been made about the award of the contract and discussions were ongoing.

She added: “Due to these discussions being confidential and commercially sensitive it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”