COMMERCIAL: Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group is to extend the contract of its community services provider by a year, with it now ending in March 2017.

The move comes in order to give the region’s health leaders time to carry out an engagement exercise with local stakeholders ahead of a new contract being signed in April 2017.

The CCG had last year announced its intention to recommission its community health and social care service for an unprecedentedly long contract of up to seven years.

The CCG and Bath and North East Somerset Council currently co-commission Sirona, a community interest company, to provide the services. The value of the health element of the contract over the current five year term is £123m.

Sirona has held the contract since 2011, when primary care trusts had to hive off their provider arm. Sirona’s contract was originally due to end in March 2016.

Last November the CCG’s board recommended extending the provider’s original contract by 12 months following discussion earlier in the year about whether to give Sirona a six month extension.

A paper presented to the governing body said: “We want to allow sufficient time to exercise a full engagement and communication plan to determine the needs of our community and to gain the input of providers, service users and the public.”

The engagement exercise is due to take place from the end of this month to summer 2016, a CCG spokesman said.

Sirona’s contract for 2014-15 is worth £43m, with £20.4m of this coming from the CCG, approximately £20m from local authorities and £2.7m from NHS England.

A final decision on the length of the contract is due to be determined during the engagement process, according to the CCG spokesman.

The spokesman said: “The value [of the one year contract renewal] is the agreed contract baseline for 2014-15 which excludes any in year recurring and one off investments. 

“The basis on which the one year contract renewal is made will take account of expectations from the NHS and council for savings and investments provision for 2016-17 as part of the budget planning process.”

The spokesman added that the contract extension would be signed during the 2016-17 planning round.