The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has opened a new procurement to establish a dynamic purchasing system (DPS) for public sector bodies to facilitate data access connections to NHS Digital’s new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), which is about to connect its first customers.
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The RM3825 HSCN Access Services DPS procurement is likely to be worth as much as £500m and will run for six and a half years. As well as NHS organisations, it will be open to non-public sector bodies that either provide essential services to the NHS, or deliver health and social care services themselves.
It will govern the supply of individual or multiple data connectivity circuits and technologies, bonded or aggregated, flexible bandwidth, burstable bandwidth, resiliency level and/or multi-tenancy sites. It may also cover cloud service access, ISP and internet services, voice, and a number of other components.
Dynamic purchasing systems are in favour because they are supposed to help public sector organisations acquire goods and services much more quickly and easily than was traditionally possible. Suppliers can also join or leave such arrangements on a schedule that suits them, while recent updates to the Public Contract Regulations contain clauses that are supposed to help prevent large suppliers from undercutting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“The framework RM3825 will pioneer the use of a DPS, enabling customers to offer and award contracts electronically in a compliant fashion,” said Michael Bowyer, director of innovation at public sector networking suppliers’ association Innopsis. “The DPS will also provide suppliers with a much simpler process for admittance to the framework on an ongoing basis, further promoting the competitive marketplace.
“We are excited about the potential to unlock innovation from a wide range of suppliers to deliver more flexible services to health and social care providers, to the benefit of the nation.”
Darren Turner, general manager of Carelink, one of a number of networking suppliers that has already achieved wider HSCN compliance, welcomed the announcement and said the industry had had some concerns that the existing RM1045 framework that governs network services might be used for HSCN.
Turner said this possibility was problematic because RM1045 was “static” and did not allow for regular new entrants.
“That could potentially constrain the supplier landscape and effectively recreate the monopoly for network services that HSCN is looking to move away from,” he said.
“So it is extremely positive that CCS and NHS Digital have heard these concerns, carried out in-depth consultation with industry and expedited the roll-out of RM3825 in such a short timescale, creating a DPS framework for suppliers to join at any time.”
CCS will hold a number of webinars later in October 2017 to help suppliers get to grips with the application process. Details are available online. Successful bidders will have to be compliant with the wider HSCN requirements, and will also be required to confirm whether or not they are Public Services Network (PSN) compliant – although actual PSN compliance is not compulsory to take part in RM3825.