COMMERCIAL: Three NHS trusts have been named as the preferred bidders to take over community services in Suffolk from outsourcing giant Serco.

West Suffolk Foundation Trust, Ipswich Hospital Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust will jointly run community services in the region from October, but the contract will be held by West Suffolk. The trio were selected from a formal procurement process after submitting a joint bid.

The announcement was made today by West Suffolk, and Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups.

Commissioners have not disclosed the value of the 12 month contract, which they say is “commercially sensitive” at this stage. However, they revealed it “will be more than the previous contract value”, which was worth £140m over three years. The growth in funding will come from the CCGs’ increased allocation for 2015-16 and savings made in 2014-15.

The contract could be extended for another 12 months if there is mutual agreement. It covers community services, specialist children’s services and community hospitals across a population of 600,000.

Serco was awarded a three year contract to take over nearly all community services in 2012 by Suffolk Primary Care Trust. The contract is due to end on 30 September.

The CCGs said they “do not anticipate any job losses” and services would “remain as they are currently commissioned, apart from minor changes to accommodate additional need”.

The accountable officer for both CCGs, Julian Herbert, said: “Over the coming months we will be working with the current provider and the new providers to ensure a smooth and seamless transfer of services.”

West Suffolk chief executive Stephen Dunn said: “The announcement of preferred bidder supports our existing work, long term plan and those of our partners, to deliver the highest quality health service through integrated working.

“By providing a more joined up service we will be able to break down the organisational barriers that can get in the way of great patient care.”

Ipswich Hospital chief executive Nick Hulme said the move “brings a new era to the way in which we can provide seamless care in the hospital and in the community”.

“We are breaking new ground in the way we have worked with our partners in putting together our proposal,” he added.

Norfolk Community Health and Care chief executive Roisin Fallon-Williams said it “signals a new approach to the way in which we can work together across the local NHS to provide seamless community care”.

Serco development director Abi Tierney said she was “immensely proud of the team in Suffolk and of the work they have done over the past three years… despite the operational and financial challenges we have faced”. 

“Everyone has worked tirelessly to deliver that service and we will ensure that we go on doing so until the end of our contract this autumn so that we hand it over in excellent order to the new providers.”