The Provider Selection Regime Regulations: NHS Procurement Updated

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The Provider Selection Regime Regulations: NHS Procurement Updated

Author: David Williams

Key Contact: Jon Lawley

On 1 January 2024, the procurement process for healthcare services in England will receive an overhaul, as the new Provider Selection Regime Regulations (the Regulations) will come into force.

The new Regulations aim to streamline the procurement process for healthcare services in England by allowing awarding bodies (in some circumstances) to avoid the competitive procurement process, providing a faster route to the awarding of contracts for healthcare services and making continuity of services easier to achieve.

The new Regulations will introduce three new selection processes for healthcare services:

  1. Direct Award Processes

These allow the awarding of a contract where there is an existing provider in place and there are either limited reasons or no reason to change the current provider or to assess alternative providers because:

  • the current contractor is the only provider that can deliver the services (Direct Award Process A);
  • there is already a choice of providers locally and the number of providers is not restricted by the awarding body (Direct Award Process B); or
  • the proposed contracting arrangements are not changing considerably, the existing provider is satisfying the current contract and is likely to satisfy the new contract to a sufficient standard (Direct Award Process C).
  • Most Suitable Provider Process

This route will allow the awarding body to award contracts without running a competitive process as the awarding body can identify the most suitable provider.

When awarding a contract through this route, awarding bodies must keep a record of the way any key criteria was taken into account and how the basic criteria was assessed. When using this route, awarding bodies are required to observe a standstill period of eight working days after any notice of the intention to award the contract is published, to allow for potential challenges.  

  • Competitive Process

This involves running a competitive process to award a contract.

Direct Award Process C represents one of the most substantial changes to the current rules, as it allows awarding bodies to continue with an existing provider where the current contract is coming to an end without the disruption of a new procurement process. It is intended that, by avoiding the need for a Competitive Process, services can be maintained in a more streamlined and predictable manner.

Implementation of the Regulations excludes ongoing award processes, so any process that has started prior to 1 January 2024 will be dealt with under the current procurement regime. The scope of the regulations is confined to the provision of services and does not extend to the supply of goods.

Similar changes are being considered in Wales. The Health Service Procurement (Wales) Bill is soon to be passed in the Senedd and will enable Welsh Ministers to introduce a new procurement regime for health services in Wales.

For more information on how the Regulations could affect you, contact our Corporate Healthcare team.

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