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CCS invites more SMEs to bid for NHS networking contracts

NHS Digital’s HSCN Dynamic Purchasing System framework has gone live, and the government is keen to get smaller services providers signed up

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has called for local network services suppliers to consider signing up to NHS Digital’s Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) now that a new dynamic purchasing system (DPS) has gone live.

The HSCN DPS was jointly created by CCS and NHS Digital, and is designed to facilitate easier access to services suppliers as NHS organisations migrate away from the old N3 broadband network and onto HSCN. It is worth £500m and will run over the next six years.

A DPS procurement model is designed to help customers acquire goods and services faster and easier. Suppliers, meanwhile, can join or quit the framework on a schedule that suits their business needs, while taking advantage of recent updates to the Public Contract Regulations that are supposed to help prevent large competitors from undercutting small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

CCS has also simplified the application process for the DPS framework and removed the traditional lengthy tender process, meaning suppliers will need to expend fewer resources setting themselves up.

Ian Fishwick, chief executive at Adept Telecom and commercial director for public sector networking trade body Innopsis, said: “The DPS is a great example of how this form of procurement can be used for complex requirements.

“Previously, many believed that DPS were only suitable for buying commodity products, and this is now demonstrably not true.

“One of the problems SMEs have with conventional frameworks is that if you miss the start then you are effectively cut out of the market for several years. With the HSCN DPS, we have shown that businesses who comply over time can join in when they are ready.”

Niall Quinn, CCS strategic director for technology said: “We aim to create a vibrant and dynamic marketplace that increases choice for health and care providers while encouraging competition between a greater number and range of suppliers, including SMEs.”

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“Creating a competitive market for network services in health and social care, to drive both product innovation and value for money, has been an ambition of the HSCN programme since the outset,” added HSCN programme director Dermot Ryan.

“Working in partnership with CCS, the establishment of the HSCN dynamic purchasing system is a significant part of realising this ambition. The DPS will promote the formation of a thriving market in HSCN services and provide health and social care customers with an easy to use, low risk way of procuring compliant services.”

Currently, all suppliers must be HSCN Stage 1 compliant to sign up to the DPS. As of 1 November 2017 16 suppliers had met these criteria, while three – Convergence Group, MLL Telecom and Redcentric – are also Stage 2 ready, which means they can begin to provide live connectivity to HSCN.

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