Department of Health issues Transparency Guidance to NHS Provider organisations

The Department of Health has issued an update to its Transparency Guidance (which, following the NHS Standard Contract, NHS Provider organisations are required to follow).

The Department of Health (DH) has issued an update to its March 2015 Procurement Transparency Guidance. The guidance contained in it applied to all NHS Provider organisations, via the NHS Standard Contract which cross references it and requires Providers to comply with it. Although the guidance does not have direct application to independent sector Providers they are also being encouraged to adopt the measures it contains. The updated measure include:

  • An obligation to supply monthly purchase order information to NHS Improvement, as part of the national benchmarking and indexing scheme aimed at sharing procurement expenditure data (with the ultimate aim of increased competition amongst the supplier base). The guidance reminds NHS Providers not to enter into any non-disclosure agreements which would restrict their ability to share procurement expenditure data.
  • All Providers of orthopaedic joints are required to submit their implant pricing information to the National Joint Registry and to other specialise registries where appropriate.
  • The guidance also reminds Providers about the so-called ‘Lord Young’ reforms which are set out at Part 4 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. These include the prohibition of the holding of a separate selection stage for under-threshold procurements and a requirement to use the CCS’ standard Selection Questionnaire for procurements that are above threshold. There are also obligations around ensuring the prompt payment of invoices down the supply chain, and also on the publication of Contract Notices and Contract Award Notices to the Contracts Finder website.
  • Interestingly the guidance appears to require the advertisement of all opportunities over £25,000 on Contracts Finder (unless standing orders indicate a higher threshold), whereas the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 themselves merely require advertisement to be made if a Provider has made the decision to advertise (but the option remains not to advertise a contract that is under the EU threshold, provided this does not conflict with standing orders).
  • By contrast, Contract Award notices for contracts over £25,000 must be published on Contracts Finder regardless of whether or not the contract was advertised initially.
  • The transparency guidance also requires Provider organisations to publish each month their total spend with each supplier, as well as preparing to publish details of any supplier rebates.
  • Finally the guidance reminds Provider organisations of the requirement to submit procurement performance data into the NHS Procurement Dashboard until it is fully replaced by the Model Hospital Portal.

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