England

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Circle blocks treatment centre bid

Queen's Medical Centre

Commissioners have terminated a procurement process which could have seen a hospital trust take over the running of a busy treatment centre – after the private firm which holds the contract took legal action against the NHS.

Private firm Circle runs the treatment centre, which looks after 250,000 patients a year, based on the site of Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

The company had initially submitted a bid to continue running the centre – as part of a competitive procurement process – but then pulled out, suggesting the contract would not allow ‘safe’ or ‘sustainable care’ to be offered.

NUH (Nottingham University Hospitals) NHS Trust produced its own bid – at a cost of at least £500,000. Despite the cost the NHS trust saw it as a chance to reduce fragmentation of services and to help ensure its own long-term financial future.

But now its spending and effort seems to have been in vain because, following a legal challenge from Circle, commissioners have terminated the procurement process and Circle has been handed a year-long extension to its contract.

Tracy Taylor, chief executive of NUH, said the legal approach from Circle to commissioners had been carried out in private – and the reasons for the decision had not been made ‘fully clear’ to the trust.

She said: ‘NUH put forward its strongest proposal for providing services in the treatment centre ... subsequently, NUH has regrettably been informed that, following a legal challenge from Circle, the commissioner has been unable to award the contract.’

A statement from the commissioners – Greater Nottingham Clinical Commissioning Groups – said the decision terminated both the current procurement process and Circle’s legal challenge.

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