The NHS supplier overhaul of 2023 is set to be a major event in the UK healthcare system – but what exactly is it, and how can commissioners prepare?
What is the NHS Provider Selection Regime (PSR)?
In 2023, NHS services will no longer work alongside the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2015. This process will shift to the ‘Provider Selection Regime’, which aims to give a more flexible approach to purchasing health and care contracts, while enabling greater collaboration and simpler integration.
The PSR is anticipated to introduce three circumstances that dictate how new contracts can be purchased:
- Continuation of existing arrangements
- Identifying the most suitable supplier when the decision-maker wants to use a new provider, or for new or substantially changed arrangements
- Competitive tendering.
In the case of circumstance 1, there are three situations where existing arrangements can continue…
- The type of service means there’s no realistic alternative
- Alternative providers are already available to patients
- The incumbent is judged to be doing a good job and the service is not notably changing.
It’s predicted that there will only be a small window of time between launch and implementation of PSR, so organisations are advised to prepare now.
A good place to start is by looking at contracts which will be ending over the next couple of years and consider which criteria will apply, as well as how assessments would be made.
For example, if you think that option 1C is appropriate, you should think about…
- How you can prove the supplier is doing a good job – such as by KPI data, or patient opinion
- Whether a new supplier could perform even better.
It’s also advisable to stay informed of the latest offerings from relevant providers. This is where a procurement specialist could help; they’ll have a good understanding of the market and can advise you if there’s a product or service that would serve you better.
Openness and transparency are still key to the procurement process, both before and after the switch to PSR.
Contract decisions will still be open to challenge, so – as with previous processes – solid records are key.
Providing criteria for ranking isn’t compulsory, but it can help to protect your rationale and prove how you made your decisions fairly. Enlisting independent support from a procurement specialist will also help you to confirm that that there is no conflict of interest (perceived or otherwise).
Although PSR allows commissioners greater liberty to arrange and manage services, it’s still integral to manage taxpayer’s money carefully and act in the best interests of patients. However, with all these elements carefully balanced, commissioners will be empowered to select the most fitting and sustainable contracts – all while simultaneously improving services for the public.
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