The country’s largest clinical commissioning group aims to skip common procurement procedures when awarding new contracts for community services, under proposals expected to test guidance on the controversial section 75 regulations.
The proposal was set out in a consultation paper released last month by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG, which is responsible for £1.1bn of commissioning.
Under the proposal, urgent care services, including GP out of hours services, would be tendered and multiple providers would be appointed to deliver continuing services under a framework agreement.
However, the bulk of community services, including community hospitals, would be awarded without competition, the paper on the CCG’s community services strategy said.
The option of skipping this step was opened up by Monitor’s guidance on section 75 of the Heath Act 2012, which says that commissioners can avoid tendering services when they can show it would not be in the best interests of patients.
CCG leaders have been nervous about taking this approach. More than a quarter of respondents to a HSJ survey in April said they had put services out to competition because they feared being challenged.
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NEW Devon chief officer Rebecca Harriott said the CCG had consulted extensively with the public to develop the strategy.
She said: “We have taken account of patient need and the local market in determining whether to compete or not. We believe it’s in the interests of our patients [that] if we look at natural geographies and patient flows in and out of [acute] hospitals we can achieve a more seamless service.”
The CCG aims not to tender services currently provided by Northern Devon Healthcare Trust in the north and east, and Plymouth Community Healthcare Trust in the west.
It proposed that Plymouth and Northern Devon continue to provide services in the west and north respectively. However, the CCG wants Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust to take on services in the east.
Alongside the consultation, which runs until 10 July, the CCG will also be testing the capabilities of the proposed providers.
Consultation document and informatuion supplied to HSJ