The NHS and independent sector organisations which have reached the next stage of bidding for two huge contracts to run cancer and end of life care services in Staffordshire have been revealed.

In a move which has proved controversial, four clinical commissioning groups are seeking to award two 10 year “prime provider” contracts – one for cancer and one for end of life care – with a total value of £1.2bn.

Breast cancer radiology

The cancer contract will initially cover breast, bladder, lung and prostate cancer services

Both University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust, the county’s main hospital provider, and the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust, were today due to be named as pre-qualified bidders for both contracts, commissioners said.

The other bidders which have passed the pre-qualification stage of the tender for the cancer pathway contract, worth £687m, are Interserve Investments, CSC Computer Sciences, and UnitedHealth UK (which has generally been known as Optum since a rebrand last year), according to information from the CCGs.

For the end of life care contract, worth £535m, the independent sector pre-qualified bidders are Virgin Care, CSC Computer Sciences, Health Management, Interserve Investments and United Health UK.

The organisations will now be asked to submit outline bids. Both contracts are expected to be awarded in summer next year.

The CCGs commissioning the contracts are Cannock Chase, North Staffordshire, Stafford and Surrounds, and Stoke on Trent.

Stafford and Surrounds and Cannock Chase CCGs chief officer Andy Donald said: “Our aim is to deliver the best possible cancer and end of life care for patients in Staffordshire so today’s announcement represents a significant milestone for our programme.

“We will be continuing to listen and gather feedback from our communities to ensure we reach our goal of delivering care that is among the best in Europe right here in Staffordshire.”

The decision to carry out the tenders, and the process, have attracted strong opposition amid claims of services being earmarked for privatisation. The tender project’s director of clinical engagement Jonathan Shapiro told HSJ in July he believed most services would continue to be provided by the same organisations as they are at present.

Commissioners say the move is designed to improve care in cancer and end of life pathways across acute and community services. Prime providers are generally responsible for either providing services themselves, or subcontracting them to others and ensuring they meet requirements.

For the first two years of the contracts, contractors will be required to improve data collection and meet service standards. A second stage will include an expectation of “streamlining the service model” and hitting an “ambitious” set of clinical outcomes. Payment will be based on a “risk/gain share arrangement”.

The cancer contract will initially cover breast, bladder, lung and prostate cancer, and expand by the fifth year to all cancer services.