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NHS England to open procurement process for primary care support services


NHS England to open procurement process for primary care support services

Opts for full market testing

by Charles Gladwin

18th  of July 2014

A public procurement process is to open for primary care support services (PCSS) , also known as family health services.

The services transferred to NHS England in April 2013, but no reduction in administrative costs was made at that time to allow a smooth transfer. "However, in line with NHS England's overall commitment to reduce administration costs by 40% we are now identifying cost reductions."

Karen Wheeler, National Director, Transformation and Corporate Operations, at NHS England commented: "We have a skilled and committed set of staff delivering these services already and have put considerable effort into designing a viable in-house solution. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to design a solution which made the required level of efficiencies."

Details of the procurement process are to follow, but NHS England has ruled out two other options: to keep in house those areas where outsourcing is not currently in place; and to outsource all services to SSCL, a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Steria . This is an international company that "delivers IT enabled business services which help organisations in the private and public sectors operate more efficiently and profitably."

NHS England says the PCS Transfer Programme "has worked with staff to define a nationally-specified service to ensure quality and consistency, and reduce existing variation in the level, type and cost of service."

DDA Vice-Chairman Dr Allan Tennant commented: "There is a huge effort to reduce variation, but it would be like demanding that the weather is uniform throughout the country. Patient need should be the real driver, which requires different levels, types and cost of service.

"Explaining and understanding variation is very difficult.  Rural areas needs are very different to urban areas."