Healthcare providers have been invited to bid for two, ten-year NHS contracts, worth £1.2 billion in total, to provide frontline cancer treatment and care for the terminally ill across Staffordshire.
Run by the NHS Strategic Projects Team, the move is the NHS’s biggest outsourcing exercise yet and provides significant opportunity for the private sector to become involved in the delivery of NHS services.
The contracts cover cancer and end-of-life treatment for children and adults in Staffordshire, and include services such as radiology, radiotherapy, breast screening, chemotherapy, surgery and nursing in hospital, hospice and home settings.
The first contract, worth £687 million, is for the provisions of cancer services in Staffordshire, and the other, worth £535 million, covers end of life care for the elderly in the county.
Winning bidders will run the contracts on a ‘prime provider’ model that will see one organisation oversee the programme and employ sub-contractors to help it carry out the service.
Macmillan Cancer Support and four clinical commissioning groups in the Staffordshire region have been working together on shaping the delivery of the outsourced services.
“By appointing one sole provider to be responsible for each of the whole cancer and end-of-life pathways from beginning to end, rather than the current system of a number of providers with a series of contracts for each separate part of the care pathway… we should be able to get better service for everyone,” said Macmillan.
Due to their scope and duration, the NHS has given these contracts ‘pioneer’ status.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “It is clear that ministers are determined to force ever-larger and more valuable contracts out to the open market.
“David Cameron has placed the NHS on a fast track to fragmentation and privatisation. The next election presents the last chance to change course.”