STRUCTURE: Commissioners in West Sussex will begin discussions with local providers to continue delivering musculoskeletal services after the preferred bidder pulled out of the contract.

Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group’s “preferred approach” is for the 16 current providers to deliver the new service model put forward in the original tender and discussions will begin shortly.

Private provider Bupa and social enterprise CSH Surrey pulled out of the contract last month after an independent probe suggested that the loss of the services could put Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust into deficit.

There was a public outcry after Bupa CSH was named the preferred bidder by the CCG last September.

The CCG has abandoned the tender process for the £235m contract after seeking legal advice.

It was considering whether to approach the unsuccessful bidders for the contract to take on the service.

However, the CCG has decided to “halt” the tender process instead. The providers that currently provide MSK services in the area have had their contracts extended until September.

In response to a freedom of information request, the CCG revealed that the procurement process had cost £348,000.

At a CCG board meeting on Tuesday commissioners decided to “halt” the tender process.

Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer of the CCG, said: “Our GP locality directors, executives and lay members all contributed to a productive meeting. We discussed the legal advice around whether the withdrawal of the preferred bidder meant the CCG needed to go back to the other bidders, start a further procurement exercise or, given the information that has come to light since the announcement of the preferred bidder, whether the CCG is able to commission the service in another way.

“The decision to halt the existing procurement process does not impact on the CCG’s desire to introduce the new service. The MSK service model was designed by clinicians and patients, and is a strong and well supported model.

“The CCG will keep all options open, with an aim to introduce the service as quickly as possible. We will begin discussions with current providers of MSK services as our preferred approach. Current contracts have been extended to the end of September 2015.”

The chief executive of Western Sussex Hospitals, Marianne Griffiths, said: “We are pleased the CCG’s clinical commissioning executive body has confirmed its preferred approach will now be to begin discussions with current providers of MSK services, including the trust.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with the CCG and other NHS partners to develop an innovative model of care, which will further improve care for all patients of MSK services.”