• NHS England publishes tender for technology and support services for ACSs and STPs
  • Framework ranges from cybersecurity to improving financial efficiency
  • NHS England says it will be live from early 2018-19

A new framework for accountable care systems and sustainability and transformation partnerships will cover a vast array of private suppliers, with the potential to shake up how support and technology are sold to the NHS.

A tender for the “ACS and STP development partner framework” was published on Wednesday with suppliers given until 23 February to apply for a place on it.

Tender documents seen by HSJ show the framework, which will be live from early 2018-19, covers everything from IT systems to helping providers find savings. It focuses on the objectives of Five Year Forward View.

The framework is aimed primarily at consultancy and IT services and products, rather frontline clinical services, but includes many of the services typically supplied by commissioning support units.

The tender documents said for the NHS to “fully achieve the transformation identified in the FYFV, STPs and ACSs will need to supplement their core capabilities with more advanced innovations and solutions.

“[The] framework will provide an easy and supported route to access these capabilities and get best value from taxpayers’ money.”

The documents said potential buyers could include public sector bodies, such as police and education services.

A background document, also seen by HSJ, said the framework could cover everything from short term support for struggling health economies to “long term strategic partnerships with an experienced third party” of more than 10 years.

Advantages would include moving away from fee for service contracts to “value based contracts and risk sharing”. An annual national review could see suppliers removed and added to the framework, the document added.

Areas covered by the framework

  • Gathering and distributing health and care data (include deidentification and reidentification of patient data).
  • A wide range of support services to make health providers more efficient and financially sustainable including “relationship management and supply chain support” and “waste minimisation”.
  • Supporting the creation of personalised health budget and integrated commissioning.
  • Building and supporting local health and care records.
  • IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, and electronic patient records (the framework will also cover suppliers to the global digital exemplar programme).
  • Population health management including business analytics.
  • Command centres to support demand manage and capacity planning across health economies.
  • Support for medicine optimisation.

Under the framework most terms and conditions will be set by NHS England, which will collect a 1 per cent management fee from suppliers on the value of anything purchased through the framework.

Any IT system suppliers on the framework will be expected to meet new NHS interoperability standards and could be removed if their software does not communicate well with others IT systems.

Suppliers could also be removed if they fail to handle sensitive data correctly, for general “poor performance” or they do not pay NHS England its fee.

No figure has been given for how much could be spent through the framework, but if even half the money committed to various NHS technology and transformation programmes is spent, it will involve hundreds of millions of pounds.

HSJ reported on plans for the “one stop shop” framework in November, a proposal met with mixed enthusiasm from NHS IT suppliers.

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