• Government launches procurement for new contracting platform
  • DHSC wants centralised tool to improve procurement oversight
  • Central NHS organisations agree to use the platform  

NHS organisations will be given the chance to advertise and manage tenders on a new platform under government plans to create a centralised buying tool.

The Department of Health and Social Care last week launched a procurement for a supplier to provide an “eCommercial system”, which aims to address the fragmented way the NHS procures contracts.

The successful system must provide the following procurement functions for the NHS:

  • Tender creation, issue and management;
  • e-auctions;
  • Dynamic purchasing systems;
  • Governance and approvals management; and
  • Savings management and supplier monitoring.

The system will be used by the DHSC and nine other NHS arm’s-length bodies, agencies and regulators, such as Health Education England, the Care Quality Commission, NHS England and NHS Digital. NHS trusts will be entitled to use the system if they choose to, although it is unclear whether, or how much, trusts will be charged to post and manage tenders.

Several of the national bodies, including NHSE, manage their tenders through a portal provided by software firm BravoSolution, while trusts can use whichever system they prefer.

But this makes data and information collation up to the DHSC’s commercial directorate “extremely complicated and time consuming”, according to the tender documents (attached below).

“Having a system with a single data set would enable simplified reporting, which can be carried out by a central team,” the document stated.

The tender documents also stated a centralised solution would “enable much greater collaboration and the sharing of standard processes and templates” across the NHS. It would hold a “wealth of supplier information” and also “save suppliers’ time with managing access across the individual system instances”.

Commercial leaders in the NHS have “long sought” to introduce a single eCommerical system, the document stated.

The contract is worth £4.5m over four years, starting in November 2019.

The DHSC has committed to using the solution from June next year, with the remaining nine central organisations set to adopt it over the course of a 16-month period to October 2021.

The tender coincides with a push by efficiency chiefs at NHS Improvement to centralise many aspects of NHS procurement.

The organisations which have committed to using the new system are:

  • Department of Health and Social Care;
  • Health Education England;
  • Care Quality Commission;
  • NHS England;
  • NHS Blood and Transplant;
  • NHS Business Services Authority;
  • NHS Digital;
  • Public Health England;
  • Porton Biopharma Ltd; and
  • Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

DHSC was approached for comment.

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