Attain have recently submitted our consultation response to the Government’s Procurement Green Paper ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ and are in the process of establishing our response to the NHS White Paper, ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all,’ for the April 2021 deadline.
What currently stands out for Attain are the bold reforms being proposed, designed to reduce bureaucracy and streamline procurement and contracting for public sector bodies. In the case of the NHS White Paper, it goes as far as to propose the complete removal of any form of competition, when the Contracting Authority deems it can find a suitable provider by other appropriate means, in an effort to drive the integration and collaboration agenda across the health sector.
However, complications with such proposals being enacted in law may lead to health and social care being subject to completely separate regulatory regimes when it comes to procurement. And let’s not forget, NHS bodies still procure non ‘health’ related supplies and services that are currently subject to the full rigour of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (as amended). Procurement professionals across the health and social care sector will need to ensure they are fully cognisant and proficient in working compliantly within both sets of regulations, especially as we further progress towards supporting our clients to integrate locally within Place and regionally with Integrated Care Systems.
The devil is always in the detail, and we await the guidance providing the practical application behind both sets of proposals. Currently there is limited guidance of ‘how’ this will be implemented in either paper. The NHS White Paper states that Local Authorities are proposed to be included within both a) the scope of the regime when arranging healthcare services as part of their public health functions, and b) Section 75 partnership arrangements, whereas, the Green Paper completely removes ‘healthcare services’ from the scope of its proposals altogether with no discussion in the paper of integration with health care on a practical level.
As health procurement professionals, we could, rather than having streamlined and bureaucracy free processes, be about to enter into a period of increased complexity and potentially heightened process and governance fragmentation across health and social care commissioning. In the meantime we will forge a way through the uncertainty to continue to support our clients to navigate these changes carefully and in compliance with relevant regulations.
Please email contacts@Attain.co.uk to find out how we can help you and your team.