The first primary care trust has been given the go-ahead to invite the private sector to run part of its commissioning function.

Hillingdon PCT will use the private sector to help it commission services under the Department of Health’s new Framework for Procuring External Support for Commissioners (FESC), HSJ has learned.

Last Friday the PCT issued an invitation to tender to private sector companies in the first stage of a bidding process.

A spokesman for Hillingdon PCT said private companies that had successfully made it on to the government’s framework would be asked by the PCT to performance manage two areas of the organisation.

One contract will be let to a private company for the PCT’s acute trust contracts. The other will be for the organisation’s implementation of payment by results.

Tendering guidelines

The DoH is expected to name the private companies selected to appear on the framework tomorrow. However, it has allowed Hillingdon PCT to issue tender notices a week early to around eight companies on the framework’s ‘micro list’.

HSJ understands the DoH told successful companies on 21 May that they would be added to the FESC and gave firms that lost out under the tendering exercise 10 days to lodge an appeal.

The FESC comprises three lists detailing companies that can provide support to PCTs.

  • ‘Micro list’ companies will be able to offer PCTs a particular service such as social marketing, risk assessment, or IT support.
  • ‘Macro list’ companies will provide a wider range of services such as helping PCTs with their assessment and planning.
  • ‘End-to-end’ companies will be allowed to run a PCT’s entire commissioning function.

The list will also be split into four areas:

  • assessment and planning;
  • contracting and procurement;
  • performance management, settlement and review;
  • patient and public engagement.

Companies understood to have made it onto the FESC include BUPA, UnitedHealth, Tribal Group, Dr Foster and Health Dialog UK.

Partners in Commissioning, a consortium led by CHKS, has been added to the ‘micro’ list.