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17 August 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha
NHS commissioners will not be expected to advertise every contract opportunity, according to guidelines published by the Department of Health.
According to a consultation into requirements for commissioners to achieve best value, the DH proposed leaving it up to staff to decide the best approach to achieve value for money, which could be a new contract or amending or extending an existing deal. But commissioners will be expected to demonstrate they have considered all alternative options by providing records of reasons and an audit trail for decisions.
Clinical commissioning groups, and the NHS Commissioning Board, will be responsible for more than £80 billion spend, and this will be overseen by the new independent health regulator Monitor. The groups will have to assess the benefits of long and short-term contracts, as well as whether to bundle services together for better value.
The best practice guidelines also outline that commissioners will not have to run a competitive tendering process where there is an urgent clinical need, or only one provider capable of delivering the service. The guidelines proposed run in parallel with public procurement rules, and explain the duty to act transparently, proportionately and in a non-discriminatory way. Commissioners will also be expected to keep the details for contracts worth more than £10,000. The supply2health procurement portal will also be maintained.
“Commissioning, led by doctors and nurses, can use these principles to secure effective provision of services for their patients,” said health secretary Andrew Lansley.
The consultation on procurement practice runs until 26 October 2012, and those wishing to respond can so here.