A controversial £55m contract for elective treatment has been given to a private provider, HSJ can reveal.

Care UK has won the contract to run the North East London Treatment Centre, beating a bid from Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.

The work has been the subject of a competition dispute, with the private provider referring the three north east London clinical commissioning groups to NHS Improvement’s competition department in July 2015, when they gave the work to the trust.

NHS Improvement, under the duties it inherited from Monitor, ruled the CCGs had made mistakes in its contracting process but it stopped short of ordering a remedy, with the CCGs instead extending Care UK’s contract by 15 months and retendering it.

The commissioners said the trust’s problems with waiting times made them reconsider, after NHS Improvement’s judgement, despite these issues being known for some time before the contract was first awarded to BHR.

The North East London Treatment Centre was rated requires improvement by the Care Quality Commission in April.

The lead CCG for the procurement, Havering, was given legal directions by NHS England over its commissioning of elective services. These were lifted in March.

Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering CCGs confirmed to HSJ yesterday that the private provider had beaten the trust bid; however, the length of the contract was not known at the time of publication.

The identity of a third bidder to run the centre has never been revealed.

A spokesman for the CCGs said: “Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge CCGs have completed their procurement for services at the North East London Treatment Centre and are working with Care UK Clinical Services, the successful bidder, to finalise the contract.”

Waltham Forest CCG was also one of the statutory bodies commissioning services from the treatment centre.

Care UK has provided services from the centre since 2007 and the site is owned by NHS Property Services.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust chief executive Matthew Hopkins: ”We are extremely disappointed to not be awarded the contract to manage the North East London Elective Care Centre.

”We believe we offer the best option for our local community and put forward a compelling bid. This demonstrated how we would have developed a centre of excellence in the heart of Redbridge and how we would have been uniquely placed to make the best use of facilities due to the co-location with King George Hospital, offering great benefits for our patients.

”We have made huge improvements across our Trust over recent years, including exiting ‘special measures’ following a very positive Care Quality Commission inspection, and hitting the national standard for planned operations waiting times.

”We will of course continue to ensure that our patients receive the very best quality, swift and safe planned care and will keep exploring how we can increase our capacity so that patients can continue to choose to have their treatment at our hospitals.”

Care UK has made no comment.