NHS England probe into commissioning of cancer services
NHS England is being probed by health regulators over complaints competition rules for commissioning cancer services were breached in Greater Manchester.
NHS watchdog Monitor said it would examine the procurement of services, patient choice and competition.
It will also look at the conduct of providers involved in reorganising cancer services in Greater Manchester.
It follows complaints by University Hospital of South Manchester and Stockport NHS Foundation trusts.
New rules were introduced earlier this year to select providers of cancer surgery services.
'Interests of patients'
Complaints were made by University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust that the selection process was "not based on the quality of services, patient outcomes or patient preferences".
Jonathan Blackburn, Monitor's legal director for co-operation and competition, said: "We are at the very early stages of this investigation and so it is too early for us to reach a view as to whether any rules have been breached."
He said the investigation would assess whether providers were picked "within procurement and competition rules" and if cancer surgery services were reorganised "in the interests of patients in Greater Manchester".
A spokesman for the Greater Manchester area team of NHS England said it had proved difficult to develop proposals that all providers could agree on.
He said it was putting a formal process in place, which would hopefully be in place by autumn.
"The priority is to make sure that people have access to the best care possible," he said.
He said it was important to have "an open and transparent process" in place.
The surgery services in question cover cancer of the liver, gall bladder and pancreas, as well as urological, gynaecological and oesophageal cancers.