A HEALTH trust which has lost a £190 million contract for running mental health services in York has called for an official inquiry amid claims of bias.

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has written to Monitor to complain of losing the contract to run services in York and has asked for October's transfer of services to be suspended.

It has urged the regulator to investigate the role of Louise Barker, the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) lead for mental health, whose partner works for Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Trust (TEWV), which has been awarded the contract.

It is claimed Dr Barker, GP at the Haxby Group Practice, was a member of the assessment panel and that her scores for TEWV were higher than other panel members. There could have been an unintentional preference which impacted the outcome, the letter states.

The TEWV bid rated 0.5 per cent over the Leeds and York Partnership.

Chris Butler, chief executive of the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Board and I have serious concerns over the procurement process that took place. Also we do not believe that another major upheaval of local services in York and North Yorkshire is in the best interests of patients and their families. In light of this we referred our concerns to the NHS regulator Monitor and we are currently awaiting a response from them on what level of action they will take.”

A spokeswoman for the Vale of York CCG said it was not aware of the complaint letter and  "is therefore unable to provide any further detail". The CCG does not accept it has, "in any way, acted otherwise than in accordance" with strict regulations.

They said: "The CCG’s position is that it has adopted an extremely robust and rigorous process, and the CCG will confidently uphold that process as required.

"In the meantime, the CCG’s main objective is to ensure that providers deliver patient care so they remain safe during the mobilisation period of the contract."