• SRCL is suing NHS England, claiming it wrongly awarded a waste disposal contract to rival
  • It says the costs of transferring staff were not properly calculated
  • NHS England says SRCL’s bid was “manifestly uncompetitive”

NHS England is being sued by a clinical waste disposal contractor that claims it wrongly awarded a contract to a rival that submitted an unrealistically low bid.

SRCL, part of American firm Stericycle, said Healthcare Environmental Services lowballed its offer for a contract to deliver clinical waste services in Cumbria and the North East last year.

The firm, which was the incumbent provider in the area, complained about the result but NHS England said there was no evidence HES’s bid was uneconomical.

Documents lodged with the High Court’s Technology and Construction Court (see below) said SRCL bid at £480,000 and set £425,000 as its lowest possible price in a reverse auction organised by the commissioner. It withdrew from the bidding when the price dropped below £425,000 and HES won the work with a bid of £310,000.

NHS England said the next lowest bid was for £313,000 and the similarity in price showed the winning bid had not been “abnormally low”.

SRCL also claimed NHS England’s commercial team acted wrongly in instructing bidders to ignore the potential costs in transferring staff from SRCL under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations.

NHS England’s defence said it had broken no rules and that the “claimants own lowest tender was manifestly uncompetitive and not in line with other bids submitted”.

The work was split into two lots, one for GP practices and another for pharmacies. SRCL’s claim said the bids were weighted 100 per cent on price and 0 per cent on quality.

SRCL was appointed to a clinical waste framework alongside HES, Sharpsmart UK and Cannon Hygiene UK in 2015.

The claims will be heard in a five day trial later this month.

Neither NHS England nor SRCL would comment before the case was heard.