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Getting the best from the commissioning support Lead Provider Framework

This is to let you know about the next steps to help you plan and prepare to get the best results from the Commissioning Support Lead Provider Framework (LPF) which will open for use from 30th January 2015.

The initial response from providers to the LPF was very strong and has been strengthened since the first stage by the wide range of partnerships and consortia assembled by bidders. Those appointed to the Framework will offer CCGs the choice of the best and most affordable services in the market, from large scale IT and back office providers that can deliver efficiencies and better quality, to smaller enterprises specialising in transformation, business intelligence and new contracting methods.

The launch of the LPF will drive up quality and drive down price. We want this to look evolutionary. Using the LPF will support you with the skills, capability, new tools and practices to deliver your vision and that of the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Only through the LPF will commissioners get access to volume-based discounts and be able to choose from the full range of commissioning support services. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to buy all of them through the LPF. You can buy any combination and you can also buy from multiple providers if you think they will better meet your needs. It’s entirely your choice.

Many of your SLAs with CSUs will shortly be coming to an end and NHS England has already signalled that these should not be extended beyond April 2016. Commissioning support must be openly procured to secure best value and to comply with EU procurement law. There is a significant risk of challenge (with costs attached) if you do not do so. Using the Framework is the quickest and simplest way of complying with the law and getting the best value. Given the tangible benefits, we want to encourage as many CCGs as possible to use the Lead Provider Framework.

Buying from the framework will be quick and easy, taking only two to three months. We will provide free professional, tailored support to CCGs that use the framework. Procurement and legal advisors and other independent experts will work with you to define your specifications, develop your tender documentation and run the process for you. All you have to do is nominate someone to work with us and find people to evaluate bids and answer questions from bidders.

The one thing we will ask, however, is that you work with your neighbours to identify where it might make sense to buy together (eg for certain services) or release your tenders at the same time as part of other groups of CCGs in order to make use of the volume based discounts on offer.

Going out to procurement together in groups will maximise the response from bidders and support a smoother mobilisation. We will be supporting groups of CCGs to use the LPF starting in February. Our initial thinking – to ensure sufficient support is available to CCGs and suppliers can concentrate on putting the best bids forward – is that four tranches of CCGs is likely to prove optimal, in February, April, June and September. Working with NHS Clinical Commissioners we want to meet as many CCGs as possible as possible during the next month, to seek their views on what they might want to procure from the LPF and approximately when, to help us put the necessary support in place, and to warm providers up so that they can begin to work through how they will respond to your requirements.

We’ve already heard from over thirty CCGs who want to go to the framework as quickly as possible once it goes live and would encourage others to consider joining them. For those considering procuring from February, we would ask them to have discussed this with neighbouring CCGs and to be clear about what they intend to buy by mid-December so that procurement and legal advisors can work with you to develop your documentation ready for February.

Today, we are publishing a simple handbook, sample tender forms and good practice specifications to help you buy from the framework. You will of course get help to work through these documents when you are clear about what and when you are going to procure. These are available at www.england.nhs.uk/lpf.

If you have any questions or want to discuss next steps for buying from the framework, or want to request an initial meeting about the support package, please feel free to get in touch with Phil Walker at philip.walker2@nhs.net. The team would be happy to come out to meet you to discuss your plans.

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