Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group did not break procurement regulations when it selected a preferred provider for a £100m community services contract without going to tender, Monitor has concluded.

  • Monitor finds NEW Devon CCG did not break rules by awarding community services contract to Royal Devon and Exeter FT without tender
  • Probe triggered by Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, which claimed process was inadequate and unfair
  • CCG must do more work to ensure value for money before awarding contract

The regulator said the process used by NEW Devon to choose Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust “was proportionate and enabled it to select a provider from the available options”.

However, Monitor warned the CCG needed to “do more work to ensure that it will get value for money before awarding the contract”.

Monitor launched its investigation into the procurement in January, following a complaint from Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, the provider which stands to lose the contract.

Northern Devon claimed the CCG’s selection was not competitive, not transparent, and affected by conflicts of interest.

The CCG chose Royal Devon by inviting potential providers to propose solutions for delivering the service, which were then evaluated, but it stopped short of a full tender process.

In its ruling, published today, Monitor did not uphold Northern Devon’s claims.

Catherine Davies, Monitor’s cooperation and competition director, said: “Having set out its vision for community services in the local area, NEW Devon CCG chose between providers in a way that was tailored to its needs.

“The approach NEW Devon CCG took won’t work in all cases, but it shows that commissioners can be flexible in their processes for selecting providers”, she added.

However, the report said the CCG’s work to date “does not yet place [it] in a position where it can enter into a contract” with Royal Devon.

NEW Devon would first have to determine the scope and pricing arrangements for the contract, evaluate its value for money, and satisfy itself that it was the best way to meet patient need and improve quality and efficiency.

If it was unable to do this, Monitor said it “would not expect the CCG to award the contract”.

In a joint statement, NEW Devon CCG and the two trusts said the CCG had been “exonerated”. The three organisations pledged to “work together to demonstrate this procurement represents value for money to the taxpayer through a due diligence process”.

Rebecca Harriott, NEW Devon’s chief officer, said the CCG would press ahead with “pre-planned work to ensure value for money”, before awarding the contract in November.

James Brent, Royal Devon’s chair, said the ruling would result in “much closer integration of acute and community services in east Devon to the benefit of our patients and communities”.

Northern Devon chair Roger French said the trust accepted the findings “entirely”.

“We are really pleased that the outcome of the Monitor report means there is now clear guidance as to what now needs to happen to ensure a robust way forward,” he added.

Monitor’s final ruling tallies with an interim judgment it published in June.

Following the interim report, Northern Devon submitted a response to Monitor that branded NEW Devon’s procurement “shambolic” and claimed Monitor’s findings were “perverse”.