The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) has opened a tender for firms to compete for work worth up to £544m over the next four years. The organisation this week invited bids for the provision of health-related legal services. Current contracts for legal services provision expire in May.

The contracts are split into three service categories: clinical liabilities, non-clinical liabilities, and regulatory, health and disciplinary law.

The clinical contract is available for up to 10 firms and is worth £480m (excluding VAT) over the next four years. The other two categories are valued at £32m each over the coming 48 months.

The organisation said: ‘The services required are to meet with an ongoing, and often urgent, need to access law firms with specialist expertise and knowledge to provide advice and support on a wide range of health-related issues.

‘As law firms often specialise in particular areas and so not all firms will be able to offer expertise across the full range of our requirements, the health-related legal services framework has been divided into three distinct lots.’

The NHSLA said its ‘unique purchasing power’ will ensure the health service receives value for money and maintains high-quality legal services for members.

Submissions are encouraged from firms for one or all of the lots, with the quality of applications deciding how many are selected.

NHSLA spending is under scrutiny at the moment as the National Audit Office studies the cost of defending clinical negligence claims.

The watchdog wants to investigate the NHS Litigation Authority’s main scheme for defending claims, whereby NHS trusts pay into a risk pool and receive indemnity cover. The Department of Health spent £1.5bn defending claims in 2015/16.

A report is likely to be published this summer.