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GPs invited to bid for £6bn contract to oversee all non-acute care

GPs and other healthcare providers have been invited to bid in the largest-ever competitive NHS tender, as central Manchester CCGs and the city council search for an organisation to oversee all non-acute care in the city.

Under the plans, the new successful bidder will be contracted to deliver all non-acute healthcare except core GMS contractual services to 600,000 patients under a 10-year contract worth £6bn.

The winning bidder will be responsible for delivering community health, social care, primary care, mental health and voluntary sector services – which will include a commissioning role.

The plans will create a ‘local care organisation’ (LCO), which will commission services from healthcare organisations that cover 30,000-50,000 patients – the groups advocated by NHS England and health ministers.

These groups – so-called ‘multispeciality community providers’ – will be led by GPs and will provide both primary and secondary care services.

They will be contracted to the LCO through a voluntary contract, which is currently being developed, but will be in addition to GMS and PMS contracts, which practices will retain.

The £6bn LCO contract will be awarded by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, an organisation that includes the three central Manchester CCGs and the city council.

Dr Tracey Vell, chief executive of Manchester LMC, told Pulse that the role of the LCP will be ‘leading community teams strategically’, which she suggested would in turn ‘help busy [GP] practices’.

She said: ‘The LCO will improve patient care, which is most important, by removing organisational delays, and allowing for more population-centred care.

Responses to the tender are due by 28 April, with the new contract to come into effect from 1 April 2018, despite initial plans stating that the contract was set to begin this month.

A joint statement from Manchester’s health and social care commissioners said the LCO will emphasise ‘combining the full range of out of hospital services’ into a single service’.

They said: ‘Our intention is to bring the complex range of services together in a way that makes them more accessible and easier to navigate. This integration is a strong part of Greater Manchester’s pioneering devolution arrangements.’

This is the largest-ever NHS services tender with other similar procurements, such as the multispecialty community provider (MCP) contract procurement in Dudley, amounting to £2bn.

Healthcare devolution in the northern ‘powerhouse’

Former Chancellor George Osborne announced two years ago that the Manchester health economy would become devolved from central Government, as part of the Government’s Northern ‘powerhouse’ plans.

The deal saw the local authorities, alongside CCGs, given the freedom to jointly commission health and care as they pleased in the local economy.

Since then, in an even more far-reaching shake up, NHS England has unveiled plans to devolve responsibility for commissioning to care organisations themselves.

This will see, in the long run, all of a current 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) areas become ‘accountable care systems’ in future.

NHS England has named Greater Manchester as one of nine ‘likely candidates’ to become one of the first such ACSs.

In return for becoming an ACS, NHS England has promised the organisations ‘more control and freedom’ over their regional health system including receiving devolved national GP Forward View, mental health and cancer funding from 2018.