All nine commissioning support unit alliances have got a place on the final stage of assessment for NHS England’s lead provider framework.

The framework, worth between £3 billion-£5 billion, will allow clinical commissioning groups to purchase services on a ‘call-off’ basis.

They final stage assessment suggests that they will be able to choose from CSUs, charities and private companies. The new set-up is due to launch in January 2015.

The lead provider framework has three lots. Lot one is end-to-end commissioning support services and includes IT support and business intelligence.

Lot two is further divided into two sub lots; medicines management and optimisation and individual funding request case management.

NHS England announced earlier this month that 16 bidders successfully met the criteria for lot one and have been invited to progress to the final invitation to tender, including seven non-NHS organisations. Bidders have until 29 October to respond to the tender.

NHS England says the response from bidders means commissioners, CCGs and NHS England will have a “wide choice of excellent, affordable commissioning support services” when the framework opens.

“It will cut bureaucracy, helping CCGs and other commissioners by providing an additional, simpler and easier route by which they can access high quality support of their choice, avoiding lengthy delays and full OJEU procurement,” says NHS England.

“CCGs have complete flexibility over whether to use the framework and whether they want to use it for some or all of their commissioning support.”

EHI reported in June this year that the nine CSU alliances are based on a mix of partnerships and merging CSUs.

 Speaking to EHI at the time, Stephen Johnson, NHS England’s relationship manager, said the alliances mean the organisations are in a stronger position to compete against external companies.

The CSU alliances include: NHS Greater Manchester CSU and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside CSU which is in a partnership but looking to merge; NHS North of England CSU; and NHS Arden CSU and Greater East Midlands CSU, which are working in partnership.

The other CSU alliances are: South CSU and South West CSU; Central Midlands CSU and Staffordshire and Lancashire CSU, which have merged; North Yorkshire and Humber CSU and Yorkshire and Bassetlaw CSU, which are working on a merger; South East Commissioning Support Unit– formerly South London, Kent and Medway, North West London CSUs; North East London CSU and NHS Central Southern CSU.

The non-NHS organisations through to the final stage of the tender are: Capita; Essex County Council; a collaborative between Mouchel, BDO, Engine and Dr Foster Intelligence; NHS Shared Business Services working together with several specialist partners, including Advanced Computer Software, SAS, 365 Response and Dell; SSG Health; Surrey County Council; and UnitedHealth UK and its supply chain partners which include BT and KPMG among others.

In total 26 bidders met the criteria for lot two.