The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership

Trusts face hefty procurement bill

Amid continued pressures on the NHS wallet, there is likely to be some disgruntlement among trusts about how much they will have to fork out to pay for a new buying model imposed on them by the centre.

HSJ revealed that all trusts will, in effect, pay half a billion pounds between 2019-21 to fund the new NHS procurement behemoth named Supply Chain Coordination Limited.

SCCL’s task is managing the incoming “future operating model” for procurement, which aims to double trusts’ uptake of the national NHS Supply Chain service and discourage organisations from buying in different ways.

Trusts will have a portion of their tariff income withheld, with the money instead sent to SCCL’s coffers.

While it has long been known that trusts will pay for SCCL’s operating costs, some trust procurement eyebrows have been raised over the amount (£260m by 2021), which is more than the turnover of some district general hospitals.

The costs are also akin to nearly half of the £600m, which the Department of Health and Social Care officials hope will be saved annually, once the model is fully up and running.

October will bring an early indicator into how the model is working, as it will be a year since the first specialist procurement provider (Crown Commercial Services) began buying its category of products under the new model.

Trusts win court battle with cancer

Two NHS trusts will receive £200,000 from a county council after they won a court case over a public health services contract tender, which had been awarded to Virgin Care.

Lancashire County Council will now rerun and complete its tendering process for public health services for 0 to 19 year olds by reevaluating the two existing bids from Virgin Care and a joint bid from Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals FT.

The trusts previously took LCC to court after the council awarded a five year £104m contract for school nursing and health visiting services to Virgin Care. The trusts, which were the incumbent providers of the services, successfully overturned Lancashire’s decision to award the contract to Virgin Care.

According to the Local Government Chronicle, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith found the county council’s records of its moderation process fell short of the standards required to evidence the reasons for the scores awarded to bidders. In their arguments, the trusts said they would lose up to £2m of transformation funding and 160 staff as a result of missing out on the contract.

The county council has agreed to pay the health trusts most of their legal costs for bringing the case. Although a final figure has not yet been produced, the council has anticipated it will be in the region of £200,000 which would be around 75 per cent of the total costs.