A large teaching trust is seeking bidders for up to £25m worth of outsourced services including elective surgery as part of contingency plans to cope with increased demand.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust is seeking up to 10 NHS or private organisations to participate in a framework delivering routine elective clinical services in specialties including ophthalmology, dermatology and general surgery.

The trust, which had a turnover of more than £1bn in 2016/17, said the £25m contract value was a “gross over-estimate” of the amount of elective work it expects to sub-contract this year after less than one per cent of its elective activity was outsourced last year at a cost of £3.7m. 

A spokeswoman said Sheffield Teaching Hospitals was expecting to outsource similar levels of activity this year.

“The tender is for a framework as part of our normal contingency planning process to ensure we can accommodate high peaks in demand or ad hoc issues with minimal impact on patients and waiting times,” she said.

“We have to set the ceiling high as if too low, we would be in breach if we did let a significant value contract over a number of years.”

Almost 95 per cent of patients on incomplete pathways were seen within 18 weeks by the trust at the end of March against the standard of 92 per cent, while almost 94 per cent of patients were seen within 18 weeks in November and December.

The FT issued the tender on 9 May to award call off contracts to “suitably qualified providers for clinical services” but the spokeswoman said there was no guarantee to any provider that a contract would be let.

Successful bidders must be registered with the Care Quality Commission and the trust said they “will be required to demonstrate clinical competence and capacity for specific services.”

The three-year contract would cover routine clinical services for adults primarily from Sheffield and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw although patients could come from a wider area.