NHS England has suspended a new £300m framework to buy digital GP services after a “claim” was issue over the process, according to HSJ.

The digital pathways framework was supposed to drive a rapid move to “modern general practice”, HSJ reported, by connecting integrated care boards with approved suppliers for tools including messaging, consultations and care navigation.

A tender, which estimated the contract at £300 million, was closed in November following an earlier delay. HSJ state that last spring, NHSE said the framework should be “fully launched in August with supplier contracts awarded”, then in September that it was “due to be available by December”.

However in a message to suppliers this week, seen by HSJ, NHSE said the new framework had been “automatically suspended” while it managed a claim against it.

It stated: “The authority would like to notify bidders of a delay in the award of the framework. The delay is due to a claim that has been issued against the authority and as part of this process, an automatic suspension of progression has been triggered therefore the necessary approvals process and contract award has been delayed.

“As I am sure you will appreciate, we do not have any additional information that can be released at this time and will communicate further once the process allows.” Details of the “claim” are unknown at this time, HSJ confirmed.

One ICB source told HSJ of their frustrations about the delay and that it was “potentially putting off” local primary care recovery.

The total procurement value of the framework is estimated to be £297m according to the contract notice, with an initial 12 month term and a potential extension of 36 months. It is due to replace the Digital First Online Consultation and Video Consultation framework, which ends in March.

An NHS England spokesperson told HSJ: “A claim has been issued in respect of this procurement and the automatic suspension has been triggered.  As such, the necessary approvals process and contract award has been delayed as a result.”