26 October 2009 | Jake Kanter
NHS Peterborough is set to save £1.5 million over the next year after transforming its procurement of social care services.
The organisation, which purchases social care on behalf of Peterborough City Council, has this month launched a £9 million framework deal with 41 social care suppliers.
The agreement is a move away from traditional "block contracts" and will enable service users to choose from an assessed and certified list of vendors, ranging from large companies to SMEs.
It also provides an effective alternative to direct payments, where people in need of social care are given cash to chose their own provider.
Paul Raymond, senior contracting manager at NHS Peterborough, told SM: "We wanted to take some of the uncertainty out of the marketplace, because if you go down the route of just giving people cash, you have no control over the market. You have little insight into what suppliers do or quality standards, and service users can be bewildered."
The scheme has the potential to save £2.5 million, but Raymond said £1.5 million is more realistic. He said the framework would continue to be refined and improved in the future.
"For us it is a new way of commissioning services. We have been able to show you can apply institutional contracting to a setting which is asking for maximum choice for service users," Raymond said.