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A faulty production line

CCG invites bids for £1bn elderly care service

CCG leaders are running a procurement process worth between £700m and £1.1bn to provide care services for elderly patients, in a move branded the ‘most audacious sell-off to date’ by Labour.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG is inviting bids for its ‘Older People’s Programme’, for a five-year contract worth between £140m and £160m per year.

The CCG said it was ambivalent whether NHS or private providers won the contract, which the Guardian reports exceeds the current most valuable private contract, worth £450m for Virgin Care to provide a range of NHS services across Surrey.

Andy Vowles, the CCG’s chief operating officer, told the Guardian. ‘What drives our GPs [on the CCG’s board] is what’s best for their patients, who in this case are a vulnerable group. It’s not a political test as to whether it’s an NHS or independent sector organisation. We are open-minded.’

The programme ‘aims to design and buy-in health and social care services for a defined population of older or vulnerable patients’, the CCG says on its website.

A spokesperson added: ‘The CCG’s over-riding objective is to improve outcomes and service quality for older people. The current procurement will encourage existing and new providers to think about how they can better integrate services in order to keep people as well as possible.’

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘This is the most audacious sell-off to date and evidence of how, in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act, the scale and pace of NHS privatisation is ramping up.’

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair, said: ‘The BMA remains concerned that large non-NHS providers, such as those organisations apparently interested in the older people’s care contract in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, could have an unfair advantage during the tendering process over smaller, less well-resourced competitors, especially those from the NHS.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • And I bet they learn nothing from the NHS 11 fiasco, the ATOS scandal, the A4E welfare to work failures. The private sector cannot be trusted to deliver public services - but is not ashamed to underbid the NHS, and win contracts that it later walks away from, scot free

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  • NHS Direct need some work.....

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  • Having recently understood the negotiation between the PCT (yes, PCT) and our local private provider, I'm convinced NHS body just isn't equipped to negotiate a cost effective ethical deal with private sector.

    Our local private provider has a penalty clause which incurs a mere 30-40K/year if they don't meet the target waiting time. They completely ignore this target as its far cheaper to incur this charge, rather then hire enough clinicians to meet the demand. Consequently the waiting list is 2-3 times longer then the target time.

    They'll be stung I'll tell ya.......

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  • The thinking behind procuring a service like this always is "We define what we want, and choose the best provider that meets our quality standards".

    The issue is that, like with the 111 tender, reliable and not-for-profit providers are more expensive and the procurement is usually awarded to a private provider that can tick all the right boxes in the procurement. They will inevitably either provide an unsustainable service, or the bare minimum to maintain their profit margin.

    And yes, you could argue that strong contract management skills can ensure delivery of the service, but lets ask the people managing the 111 debacle how that's going...

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