COMMERCIAL: Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has called for a controversial community services procurement to be taken over by NHS England or the county’s ‘success regime’.

  • Northern Devon Healthcare Trust calls for NHS England or success regime to intervene in community services procurement
  • Trust claims NEW Devon CCG procurement “manifestly shambolic”
  • Northern Devon threatens CCG and Royal Devon and Exeter FT with CIP liability “buy out” claim if contract lost

The trust said Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s approach to the procurement had been “shambolic”. It also threatened to make the CCG or the new provider “buy out” cost savings earmarked for the contract.

The trust’s comments came in a submission to Monitor, which is investigating NEW Devon’s decision to choose, without going to full tender, Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust as preferred provider for a £100m community services contract in the eastern part of the CCG’s patch

Northern Devon district hospital

Relationship between Northern Devon Healthcare Trust and NEW Devon CCG have been strained for some time

The probe was launched in January following a complaint from Northern Devon, the incumbent provider, which claimed the CCG’s process was not competitive or transparent and was affected by conflicts of interest.

Last month Monitor published its interim findings, which said while the CCG “would be likely to be in breach” of procurement regulations if it awarded the contract without further assurance work, it had not yet broken the rules.

In its submission to the Monitor following the provisional judgement, Northern Devon said it disagreed with the findings.

It said: “It would be perverse and irrational to find that because the CCG will seek further information from Royal Devon and Exeter within a ‘due diligence process’ the CCG has not breached the [regulations].”

“The CCG has already unfairly ruled out [Northern Devon] from further consideration as a result of a process that (as Monitor has provisionally found) did not comply with the [regulations].”

Northern Devon said the CCG’s approach to the procurement was “manifestly shambolic”. It called for the rest of the process to be overseen by NHS England or the “success regime” – the national programme for turning around troubled health economies. The county was placed in the regime in June.

In its submission to Monitor, Northern Devon also made a new claim that a cost improvement plan worth “several million pounds” would be put at risk if community services transfer to Royal Devon.

It said it would “still need to deliver the [cost improvement programme]” if it lost the contract, and would therefore “require either [Royal Devon] or the CCG to ‘buy out’ this liability on transfer if this occurs prior to March 2016”.

In their response to Monitor’s provisional judgement, NEW Devon said it welcomed the findings, which would “assist… in further enhancing the next phase of the process as the CCG conducts the strategic and transitional due diligence ahead of contract award”.

Relations between Northern Devon and the CCG have been strained for some time – a fact acknowledged last December, by the then chief executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority, David Flory.

Monitor’s final judgment on the procurement is expected in the coming weeks.