Commissioners in two counties have incurred extra costs after NHS England delayed their procurement for an NHS 111 and out of hours GP service.

The pause has affected two clinical commissioning groups in Suffolk and one in Essex, though neither the CCGs nor NHS England would say why the procurement was paused.

The procurement process for the 111 and out of hours GP service was set up jointly by Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk, and North East Essex CCGs as part of the area’s sustainability and transformation plan.

It started last October with commissioners aiming for the new contract to go live in October 2017.

But the process was paused in December at the prequalification questionnaire stage.

The procurement was allowed to continue again in late May, and the CCGs issued the invitation to tender a month later.

The six month pause meant the contract’s go live date was pushed back to April 2018, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG board papers said.

The CCGs have, therefore, had to negotiate an extension with the existing providers of the services across the counties, incurring a “cost pressure”, the papers said.

In the interim, the out of hours service in Suffolk and Essex will continue to be delivered by Care UK.

NHS 111 services will be delivered by Integrated Care 24 in Suffolk and Care UK in north east Essex.

In addition, the Suffolk CCGs have had to hire Suffolk GP Federation as its interim provider of a GP streaming model at its acute providers, which has come at a “higher cost than the annual budget included in the integrated urgent care tender”.

A provider for the emergency department GP streaming model in north east Essex is being commissioned by Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust.

The CCGs said the amount of the extra money provided to interim providers was “commercially confidential”, while NHS England would only say the impact was “small”.

An NHS England spokesman said: “NHS England agreed with the CCGs that they could manage the small impact of any cost from the pause in procurement.

“This is within the context of additional funding provided this year for these CCGs to help improve services for patients, including support for the emergency department GP streaming models.”

NHS England is planning to publish a “national service specification” for integrated urgent care “soon”, the spokesman said.

Large 111 service procurement postponed

Commissioners in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have postponed the procurement for a new 111 provider in Hampshire to serve more than 2 million people.

The current service is provided by South Central Ambulance Service FT and due to end on 31 May 2018.

The nine CCGs covering the county have agreed to postpone the procurement, with the new service scheduled to go live in early 2019.

Innes Richens, chief operating officer of Portsmouth CCG, said: “This decision was taken, primarily, because the new service will cover a very large area which contains a number of local delivery systems, all of which are at different stages in developing new models of care.

“Given that variation it was considered sensible to postpone the procurement for a short period to allow us all to have greater certainty as to how the various local health systems will develop, and to identify any impact on the 111 service.”