COMMERCIAL: A South West clinical commissioning group has agreed to award community services contracts worth more than £90m without going out to tender.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG’s governing body backed controversial plans to award three community service contracts to the providers identified as “most capable”.

This approach scored the highest in an options appraisal, which also considered either going out to open competition or awarding the contracts to existing providers.

The CCG, which is one of the most financially challenged in the country, inherited a commitment to retender the contracts from its predecessor Devon Primary Care Trust. However, it has argued that a competitive process could undermine its ambitions to create more integrated services for patients.

A paper presented to the meeting said the options appraisal was weighted to favour providers that could be “fully embedded in the locality urgent care system”.

Plymouth Community Healthcare has been named preferred provider for community services in the CCG’s western locality, which covers its existing patch in Plymouth as well as South Hams and West Devon, where services are currently provided by Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust.

Community nurse

The CCG will now carry out due diligence on its preferred providers alongside negotiating contracts

Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust is the preferred provider in the eastern locality, where services are currently provided by Northern Devon Healthcare Trust. Northern Devon will continue to run services in the northern locality.

The proposals were met with some resistance when they were first announced this summer. Northern Devon and Torbay both raised concerns with the CCG along with Devon County Council. The local authority was concerned about disrupting relationships between its social care staff and community staff in South Hams and West Devon.  

CCG chair Time Burke said the approach would “set the foundations for integrated care” across the CCG patch.

“We have worked hard to listen to all perspectives whilst recognising we cannot necessarily expect a consensus. We recognise that any change can bring with it some uncertainty but we consider the decision to be in the best interests of our patients and our population.”

The CCG will now carry out due diligence on its preferred providers alongside negotiating contracts.

Steve Waite, chief executive of the social enterprise Plymouth Community Healthcare, said the designation of the organisation as preferred provider was “recognition of the high quality care provided by our staff”. 

“This will clearly mean a time of change as we understand and take on the additional responsibilities associated with the restructure. I can assure our current staff, new staff that will be joining us, our partner organisations and especially people that use our services, that we will work tirelessly to make the transition as smooth and inclusive as we possibly can,” he said.