7 January 2010 | Jake Kanter
Great Yarmouth and Waveney (GYW) NHS primary care trust may be forced to withdraw its tender for a community services contract if it is found to have broken Department of Health (DH) competition rules.
The DH’s Co-operation and Competition Panel will investigate whether GYW “acted inconsistently with the principles and rules of cooperation and competition” after blocking private and third sector suppliers from bidding on the deal.
The probe follows a complaint last month by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo) and the NHS Partners Network – whose members are commercial and not-for-profit suppliers. Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb said GYW’s decision would “deny patients service quality and taxpayers value for money”.
The competition board will complete the first phase of its investigation by 2 March and, if more time is needed, the second phase will end 28 June. If the trust has not acted consistently with competition regulations, the board could recommend to the DH that the tender be withdrawn or changed.
GYW’s decision to limit the pool of bidders for its community services contract followed a change in policy by the DH last year, which said the NHS should become the “preferred provider”.