Why Commissioning in the NHS is becoming more like ‘Storage Hunters’
We are currently seeing the commissioning of services within the NHS becoming increasingly complex, as more services are put out to tender.
No longer can a commissioner simply select a service and agree a price with its NHS provider partner and just move on. Now the market has to be fully tested, on a regular basis, with a range of providers in the public and private sectors. The contract has to be properly monitored and after three years of the five-year cycle, the whole thing starts again.
This applies to every one of the hundreds of contracts being let in the NHS each year.
Where commissioners used to know the historical basis for service provision, the model is now evolving at such a rate that there are fewer people to look at the contracts in depth; and in some cases, we find little previous experience of the service being tendered.
Within this environment, it is becoming harder to determine what the existing service provides, in all its complexities; especially if the service has been in existence for several years.
Additionally, with increasing pressure NHS Trusts to reduce costs, any features of ‘added value’ within a service are often sacrificed on the ‘altar’ of CRES. So services are often reduced to the bare bones required, which hardly benefits the end user. Private sector providers can be more flexible in their approach as they are not weighed down by the same restrictions affecting NHS Trusts, so you have to question how level the playing field really is…
With public expectations increasing and the public purse decreasing, the need to balance the two is becoming more and more challenging. This is resulting in a need for setting a standard; a benchmark, almost and this in turn uncovers a need to train commissioners. It is possible to achieve World Class Commissioning and the need for this is growing.
When contracting out services it is vital that commissioners have a real feel for the service they are buying, otherwise there is a very real possibility of buying a package like Storage Hunters, where the true value and extent of the service is unknown until it’s open for business…
If you’re keen to open the lid on your commissioning, give us a call. We’d be delighted to help.