The health service’s central body, NHS England, has put out a ‘prior information notice’ for expressions of interest over providing comms to help support its new structures, which underwent major changes last April as part of a government effort to cut costs.
The notice states that the likely customers will be Clinical Commissioning Groups – introduced in last year’s reforms and made up of frontline groups of GPs providing and commissioning services – as well as NHS England, and other public sector health organisations.
It is understood that were a roster to go ahead, PQQs would go out in August, with appointments made early next year.
Calling for engagement in other potential areas of extra support including IT and analytical services, the notice adds that it is an "engagement exercise with both supply and demand sides of the market in order to seek to scope out the opportunities and benefits of a dedicated framework".
A spokeswoman for NHS England said: "This tender notice is part of a wider initiative about a variety of non-core services to the NHS called commissioning support services, which include communications and engagement services."
This wider initiative will see the creation of the Lead Provider Framework, which goes live in January and will provide a selection of external suppliers across a range of services to the NHS worth an estimated £3bn to £5bn over four years.
Earlier this year, director of commissioning support services strategy and market development for NHS England, Bob Ricketts, said the move was a response to "local commissioners... asking for a faster, simplified approach to choosing and changing their commissioning support provider".