• South Warwickshire CCG angers provider by launching competitive tender
  • Services worth more than £200m over seven years
  • Older people’s services contract procurement is being supported by the Strategic Projects Team
  • Incumbent FT signs exclusivity deal with local GPs

Commissioners in the West Midlands have embarked on a competitive tender process for out of hospital care in the face of criticism from the main incumbent provider.

South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group launched the competition, which is expected to take at least a year, last week.

Glen Burley

Glen Burley

Glen Burley said it was ‘vitally important’ to win the tender

The CCG is being advised by the Strategic Projects Team, which was heavily criticised last month in an audit of the failed Cambridgeshire and Peterborough older people’s services contract.

The South Warwickshire contract will be for seven years, and is worth an expected £227m in total. The services in scope are: community nursing, therapy and inpatient bed services; end of life care; and community mental health services for older people.

From year three onwards it will include around £13m a year of emergency funding related to the patient groups covered by the services listed above.

The contract is for a lead provider which will be rewarded for improving outcomes. Up to 10 per cent of the contract value will be linked to performance, although details of the outcomes to be used to judge this have yet to be published.

Children’s services, stroke, rehabilitation, learning disability and substance misuse services are not in scope.

The competitive tender process will run for 46 weeks, when a preferred provider will be named. There will then be a period of negotiation with the preferred provider before the contract goes live.

The launch of the tender has been greeted with dismay by South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, the main existing community services and acute care provider. In a statement to the board this week, chief executive Glen Burley said neither the trust nor its staff were notified in advance that the process was about to be launched.

The statement said: “The scope also includes some services which no longer exist at it appears to be based on rather old description of community services.

“It also includes the intermediate care wards in our community hospitals, we had previously advised the CCG that these services would not be available to other bidders as they are owned and operated by us.

“We had hoped that the CCG would reflect on their position.”

The trust has signed an exclusivity agreement with South Warwickshire GP Federation, committing both parties to bidding together for the contract.

The federation is made up of 35 practices, which are all members of the CCG.

Mr Burley’s statement warned that the process risked the “destabilisation” of local services. It said: “It is vitally important for the sustainability of local hospital and community services that we and [the GP federation] win this tender.

“It is inconceivable that we would move to a situation where we would move away from the integration that we have already achieved and which has been recognised nationally as an exemplar.”

A further two contracts that the Strategic Projects Team has been involved in procuring in Staffordshire are on hold following the Cambridgeshire fiasco.

The CCG said the process will cost £300,000 over two years.

A spokesman for the commissioning group said the need to transform services and make them sustainable was “aligned with the developing objectives of the sustainability and transformation plan”.

He added that the tender process allows the CCG to identify a single provider for non acute older people’s services while meeting statutory obligations under NHS procurement regulations.