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14.07.14

NHS England drops in-house option for primary care support services

NHS England is to launch an ‘open’ public procurement process for primary care support services (PCS), after not being able to design a viable in-house solution.

NHS England said this would mean a “difficult time” for PCS staff and said it will ensure any transfer process to an external organisation is “as smooth as possible”.

Since April last year, NHS England’s PCS Transformation Programme has worked with staff to define a nationally-specified service to ensure quality and consistency, and reduce existing variation in the level, type and cost of service.

After extensive work and significant engagement with staff and their representatives, the Programme presented three options to the NHS England Board: a full market testing option with an open public procurement; an in-house option in those areas where outsourcing was not currently in place; and an option to outsource all services to SSCL, a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Steria.

Karen Wheeler, national director for transformation and corporate operations, said: “NHS England is committed to cutting administrative costs for all services, and these changes will benefit patients and the taxpayer by freeing up more money for care.

“We have a skilled and committed set of staff delivering these services already and have put considerable effort into designing a viable in-house solution.

“Unfortunately, it has not been possible to design a solution which made the required level of efficiencies. We know this is a difficult time for PCS staff and we are committed to ensuring that any transfer process for relevant staff is a smooth as possible.”

Further details of the procurement process are in development. In the meantime the services will continue to be run by NHS England.

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