• Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire CCG to reduce community providers from three to one
  • Two incumbent providers to merge to bid for new service against a third incumbent provider
  • Tender for 10-year contract, worth up to £120m annually, to be released next month

Community providers in the south west will compete to take over each other’s services after the local CCG announced it would accept only single-provider bids for a new £1.2bn contract.

On Wednesday, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group announced it wanted to replace the three existing community providers with one.

In response two of the incumbent providers, Bristol Community Health and North Somerset Community Partnership, said they would merge if they won the new contract to run a single Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire service.

The third incumbent Sirona, which currently runs community services in South Gloucestershire, told HSJ it would also be bidding to take over community services across the entire region.

The contract cover adult service and children community services would continue to be provided by the three separate providers for each region.

A CCG spokesman would not comment on whether any additional providers had expressed an interest in the contract, worth up to £120m annually over 10 years, but outside bids were welcome.

In a statement, the CCG said the move to a single provider would “ensure that care is joined-up and consistent across the area”.

It said: “Whatever their postcode in Bristol, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire, people will have access to similar services.”

The existing contracts with the three separate social enterprises are a legacy from when there were three separate Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire CCGs. The CCGs merged in April this year.

In April CCG chief executive Julia Ross told HSJ that the three separated services were not providing a consistent experience across the region.

Bristol Community Health chief executive Julia Clarke said: “Merging with NSCP puts us in the best possible position to win this tender, for the benefit of local people and staff who want to see local healthcare delivered by local not-for-profit providers.”

North Somerset Community Partnership chief executive Judith Brown said: “Our organisations are passionate about community health care – keeping people out of hospital, maximising their independence and supporting them to remain well at home. We share a vision for how to achieve this through joint working with local GPs and other health and social care provider organisations.”

Invitation to tender will go out in January, with the new service expected to go live in April 2020.

The story was updated on 20 December to reflect a decision by the CCG to tender only for adult community services, reducing the value of the contract from £1.7bn to £1.2bn.