• Framework being developed to cover wider range of technology and support services for ACSs and STPs
  • Focus on technology covering all IT suppliers involved in the global digital exemplars programme
  • Mixed response from suppliers with one source calling it a move in the “wrong direction”

NHS England is developing a new “one stop shop” framework for local health systems to buy products and services ranging from workforce advice to IT systems.

The national commissioning body has published a prior information notice asking for feedback on a single framework for sustainability and transformation partnerships and accountable care systems.

Matthew swindells 2

Source: Neil O’Connor

Matthew Swindells said the framework should be in place by the start of 2018-19

The framework will cover a wide range of items intended to support greater health and social care integration, focusing heavily on digital technology, as specified in the Five Year Forward View.

The notice said: “NHS England are looking to engage organisations who can work with STPs and ACSs to accelerate this goal and to strengthen capabilities in population health management… and digital transformation.”

If even half the money committed to various NHS technology and transformation programmes is spent through the framework, it will involve hundreds of millions of pounds.

Senior health IT supplier sources speaking to HSJ had mixed views on the new framework with some calling it a waste of time and others seeing it as a fresh opportunity.

One source said the framework would “squander precious resources and drive work in the wrong direction”.

NHS England did not answer questions asked by HSJ, but a spokesman said: “This framework will provide an easy to use, optional route for local organisations to source a range of digital, technology and other support, cutting transactional procurement costs and driving quality and value for money.”

Services and products likely to be covered by the framework

  • Population health analytics.
  • Data management.
  • Connecting and integrating clinical IT systems across health economies.
  • System and care pathway redesign support, including in primary care.
  • GP IT systems.
  • Supply chain support.
  • Medicine optimisation.
  • Personal health budgets.
  • IT Infrastructure support.
  • Workforce development.

The framework will also cover some of NHS England’s central digital technology programmes, including IT for GPs, global digital exemplars and scaling up the seven innovation “test beds”.

All these programmes have central funding attached, though concerns have been raised about how much money is actually available.

The Treasury has approved £385m for the digital exemplars, which essentially funds trust to become IT blueprints for others to follow, and more funding is possible by the end of 2017-18.

A fraction of this money has already been distributed to a handful of trusts.

NHS England national director of operations and information Matthew Swindells told HSJ in July decisions about where to spend future releases of this money would be devolved to STPs or ACSs.

In a blog this week, Mr Swindells confirmed suppliers for exemplars would be placed on the “ACS and STP innovation partners” framework, which he hoped would be in place by the start of 2018-19.