Are you able to demonstrate your Carbon Reduction Plans in a tender bid?

Carbon Reduction Plan

From April 2024, it will be compulsory to demonstrate Carbon Reduction Plans (CRPs) in any NHS tender bid submissions. This is because the NHS has announced a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2045 and this will also include emissions generated by goods and services purchased through its suppliers.

Since April 2023, for all contracts above £5 million per annum (excluding VAT) in value, the NHS has required suppliers to publish a CRP for, at a minimum, their UK scope 1 and scope 2 emissions and a subset of scope 3 emissions.

From April this year, the NHS will extend this CRP requirement to all NHS procurements, regardless of contract size or value.

How can you demonstrate your CRP in a tender?

A CRP must identify the supplier’s carbon footprint and a clear plan for achieving net zero emissions, ideally by 2045 to coincide with the NHS target.

It should include:

  1. Your current greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account waste generated in operations, commuting and business travel, and transportation and distribution.
  2. Details of any environmental management measures already in place, including certifications or other specific carbon reduction initiatives you have adopted to become net zero.

How can you track your carbon?

Having researched different solutions to develop CRPs for our clients, we would recommend using Amethyst Connect’s Track My Carbon online platform as a low cost, easy to use way to develop and maintain CRPs that meet the requirements of Public Procurement Notice PPN 06/01.

With the impending change of requirements looming close in April, we have formalised our endorsement of the platform and negotiated a 10% saving for our clients as part of a new partnership with Amethyst Connect.

Next steps

Watch the video below to find out more about Track My Carbon.

Track My Carbon Introduction

To find out more about the NHS Carbon reduction plan and net zero commitment requirements for the procurement of NHS goods, services and works, visit the NHS website.

If you require additional support and consultancy to further develop your CRPs, reach out to Sarah Joy Newton, Founder of Amethyst Connect, and (as always) Krisja, David, and the rest of the team at K Low Consulting

How to win GP contracts and funding

Doctor consultation

If you are a surgery or general practice looking to win substantial contracts or funding, it can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you are an already over-worked GP or Practice Manager struggling for time.

What types of GP contracts can you bid for?

APMS (Alternative Provider Medical Services) contracts are regularly put out to tender by the NHS commissioners – usually Integrated Care Boards or local authorities – every week on the Government’s Find a Tender website. This type of contact enables private sector companies to provide primary care services. They can also be used as a vehicle to commission contracts for services that are outside the scope of core general practice such as helping individuals or groups not signed up to surgeries, for example asylum seekers or the homeless.

PMS (Personal Medical Services) contracts were hugely popular and generally facilitated by NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups but these are being phased out in favour of a new Integrated Care Provider (ICP) contract to allow for a better integration of services.

GMS (General Medical Services) contracts are the national standard GP contract.

For more information on the types of GP contracts, see The Kings Fund website.

We tend to work more on bids for APMS contracts and, in partnership with PMA, are here to support and guide GPs and Practice Managers through the tender bid process.

In fact, we have bid on more than 300 health and social care contracts with a win rate of 93%, securing £1 billion in contracts and funding for our clients.

Is there any general practice funding available in the UK?

The latest NHS England waiting list figures, up to November 2023, stand at 7.6 million. That’s 7.6 million people who are all waiting to start elective/non urgent treatments in England.

While this has dropped ever so slightly from 7.7 million in October 2023, it is still much larger than the 7.2 million it was just a year ago in November 2022.

According to The Lancet, NHS England’s recovery plan aims to increase capacity by up to 30%, compared with pre-pandemic levels, over the next three years through a range of measures, including extra staff and increased use of the independent sector.

Due to this significant, unprecedented pressure on our healthcare system, we anticipate that there will be additional funding opportunities for GP Practices and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) made available by NHS England.

The General Practice Improvement Programme (GPIP), for example, provides nationally funded support for practices and primary care networks (PCNs) to implement modern general practice.

There is also funding available to GP practices to help them with going digital, such as cloud-based telephone systems, online consultation software and new appointment booking systems.

Find out more on the NHS website.

If you need help with winning GP contracts or funding, get in touch with K Low Consulting today to see how we can assist you. Contact info@klowconsulting.com or give us a call on 0330 133 1041.

Does tendering feature in your growth plans for 2024?

Bid strategy

If you are looking to grow your business in 2024, tendering for a large contract could take your organisation to the next level.

Winning a new, large contract is a great way to grow your business significantly but it can also cause a business to unravel if the resources and processes aren’t in place before you start delivering the contract.

Make 2024 the year you grow through tender bids with our top tips:

  1. Bid strategy

Before you start applying for any tenders, you need to make sure that any contract opportunities you go for align with your wider business goals. You will no doubt have a business plan, financial forecast or marketing plan ready for 2024, so why not create a bid or contract strategy too?

Your bid strategy should consider the potential growth areas in your business. What are you best at? Do you have a specialism or niche? Where do you have capacity? What are your most profitable services? Do you see demand increasing for one of your services in 2024? Will you be launching new products or services?

Once you have asked yourself these questions, you will have a clearer understanding of the types of contracts you should bid for, and this will shape your strategy.

2. Analyse contract opportunities carefully

As well as considering if a particular tender or contract opportunity aligns with your bid or contract strategy, it is also important to think about how else this will benefit your organisation. For example, if it is a small contract but with a company you have wanted to work with for a while, it could be a good way to get your foot in the door. It is also worth thinking about the time it will take to pull the bid together versus your likelihood of winning the tender. Is there going to be a lot of competition for this contract? Would you be able to meet the deadline comfortably with other work commitments? Are you absolutely positive you can fulfil the requirements of the tender bid if you were to win the contract? Also think of the financial implications. Can you price your products and services competitively to win the tender? Will you need to invest in more staff, machinery or equipment to deliver this contract? Would you still make a profit?

3. Ensure your processes work and scale up as necessary

In order to manage growth effectively and deliver a winning bid, you need to have total confidence in your people, systems and processes. Are they scaleable solutions? Could they cope with the extra work? For example, could your software cope with an influx of new users? Do you need to recruit more staff? It’s important not to have the mindset of dealing with issues as and when they come along. Instead, you should manage any risk involved and plan ahead, so that when you land the contract and growth happens, you are ready.

4. Put together a strong bid team

Quality tender submissions take time and should involve more than one person. Create a tender task force of people who can all bring something to the bidding process. You should also assign a project manager too. As part of our Four Phase Approach, we assign our clients with their own bid manager, who creates a clear timeline of the project which drives the entire process, and engages with the identified key contributors to gather the key information needed to create a winning bid.

5. Bring in the experts

Growing a business and tendering for new bids can feel daunting, which is why it’s reassuring to have a team of experts supporting you through the process. Here at K Low Consulting we work with our clients to help them through the bid process, right from developing a contract strategy to supporting them to deliver the contract when the bid has been won.

So, make 2024 your year for growth and contact us to discuss how tendering for new business can form an integral part of your strategy.

For more information or to discuss how we can work with your organisation to help you win and manage contracts, contact us today on 0330 1331 041 or info@klowconsulting.com.

How will the Procurement Act 2023 affect NHS and other public sector tenders?

NHS procurement

The Procurement Bill received Royal Assent on 26th October and is now known as the Procurement Act 2023 and is likely to come into force in 2024.

But what exactly is it? And what does it mean for NHS and public sector contract tenders?

What is the Procurement Act?

The new Procurement Act aims to reshape the way public sector contracts, including those in healthcare, are awarded. The overarching goal is to streamline processes, increase transparency, and promote fair competition among suppliers.

It is expected that further guidance will be released in March 2024, with a view to the Act ‘going live’ in October 2024.


What will change?

It is likely that any tender processes that have started before the Act comes into effect won’t be affected. Although, there is a question at the moment whether or not this includes Prior Information Notices (PINs) as these are information-only notices and are not actively inviting organisations to tender for a contract and, therefore, have not officially started the procurement process.

Between now and October 2024, legislation needs to be drafted and guidance will be published during the course of 2024. A six-month notice period will also implemented to allow suppliers, local authorities and other commissioners ample opportunity to prepare and embed any new or improved internal processes before the Act becomes law.

How will the Procurement Act change NHS tenders?

The Procurement Act 2023 will replace current procurement rules in relation to NHS and health and social care contracts.

According to the gov.uk website, ‘the new Procurement Act will benefit suppliers of all sizes, particularly start-ups, scale-ups and small businesses’ by creating ‘a central digital platform for suppliers to register and store their details so that they can be used for multiple bids, and see all opportunities in one place. Simplified bidding processes will make it easier to bid, negotiate and work in partnership with the public sector’.

It is also hoped that commercial frameworks will be more flexible and accessible and it will remove some of the bureaucratic barriers currently in place that prevents smaller businesses from competing for contracts. Prompt payment in public sector supply chains has also been cited as a benefit of the new system.

What next?

The Procurement Act 2023 is a significant change to the process of bidding for and winning public sector contracts and we will continue to educate ourselves as this moves forward.

In fact, on Wednesday 22nd November, we attended the Procurement Reform Supplier Conference in Manchester which covered the forthcoming changes at length with speakers from the Cabinet Office and PASS Procurement.

One key thing we took away from this conference that people need to prepare for these changes now or face not making supplier lists.

Other key, recurring themes were the importance of demonstrating sustainability and social value in tender bids. These are likely to be of great significance to commissioners going forward so we would urge potential suppliers to carefully think about what they are doing in these areas and how can they do more and demonstrate their activities in 2024 and beyond.

If you are looking to win more public sector contracts through tenders, or are worried about the impact The Procurement Act 2023 could have on your ability to win lucrative contracts in the future, contact us on 0330 1331 041 or info@klowconsulting.com.

The new CQC Framework: what is it and how will it affect providers?

CQC

Earlier this year, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced it would be making changes to the way it works with suppliers and providers. These changes would include the establishment of a new assessment framework and provider portal and will apply to providers, local authorities and integrated care systems.

Over the course of 2023, these plans progressed and the new portal started being rolled out in September with providers being invited to join in phases.

The new framework will start being used in November, again being rolled out in phases. These phases will be in geographic regions, starting with providers in the South of England, with a view to the framework working as standard from April 2024 for all providers.

The framework will retain the five key questions, but six new evidence categories will be introduced. There will also be quality statements which will focus on specific topic areas, based on people’s experiences and the standards of care they expect. These will replace the key lines of enquiry (KLOEs), prompts and ratings characteristics.

What do you need to do if you are a CQC provider?

The CQC will contact you when it is time for you to join the portal, so our advice would be to make sure they hold up to date contact details for you so you receive your portal invite and login details. You can also subscribe to receive email updates so you are kept informed of any changes as and when they are rolled out.

Also, you will be required to submit a lot more evidence, so start gathering this now.

Implications and considerations

Here at K Low Consulting, we are in a unique position. We are not a supplier or service provider to the CQC but many of our clients are. We are trusted by providers and can speak for them.

Having attended the Care Show 11 – 12 October in Birmingham and hearing a briefing from James Bullion, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care and Integrated Care at the Care Quality Commission, we feel that these changes to the CQC Framework have big implications and we have some very real concerns that need serious consideration.

Firstly, this new framework is evidence-based, with the onus on the provider to gather and provide evidence themselves.

Since Covid, the CQC has had to carry out more desk-based audits and, if any problems were identified, a follow up inspection would take place. Even then, the CQC has struggled to meet demand and keep up with the number of in-person inspections required. So, it was obvious that any new process would need to be more efficient for the CQC.

But, with providers submitting their own evidence and quality statements, face-to-face inspections will be a thing of the past completely. Essentially, providers and suppliers can tell the CQC what they like and won’t be interviewed or tested on aspects such as safeguarding, which could adversely affect patient safety.

Another concern is that the framework is effectively becoming a self assessment process, with no independent audits or inspections taking place.

Lastly, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance and the NHS Long Term Plan identify patient-centred care as being central to good quality health services and recommend giving patients greater control over their own health and ensuring they have more personalised care when they need it. There has also been much made of the importance of the ‘patient voice’, encouraging patients to have their say on the health services they use. As part of the new framework, case studies and service user testimonials can be submitted but, as the provider is responsible for collating and uploading these, will they be truly representative? Should patients and service users be interviewed by someone independent?

It will be interesting to see how the new portal and framework pans out and we will look to do a follow up blog in due course.

Further information and guides for providers can be found on the CQC website.

Tips for creating a successful tender bid

Tender tips

Business growth may feature heavily in your plans and bidding for tenders is an ideal way to achieve those goals.

But, how can you ensure your tender bid stands out over your competitors?

Here are our top tender tips:

  1. Have a clear contract strategy

Finding and developing your contract strategy is a great way to home in on exactly which bids will align with your overall business and growth plans. That’s why we offer a bespoke consultation service to develop this strategy with you, so we get to know your organisation from the inside out. It is the culmination of a team effort – strategic thinking, investigative research, clarity and focus. It also means you won’t get distracted by lucrative bids that are not a good fit for your business and the direction you want to take it in.

2. Analyse any potential contract opportunities

When a tender or contract opportunity presents itself, carry out an opportunity analysis to make sure it not only aligns with your business goals and contract strategy, but that you have the resources and skills to deliver the contract if successful. If you don’t, what do you need to put in place? Will that make the contract financially viable? Or will you be at a loss once you have invested in more people and equipment?

3. Assemble a tender team

Responding to a tender, particularly an NHS or public sector contract, can be a long, thorough process. Think hard about the information you need to gather and who can help you to do this. Also assign a project manager so there is someone leading and coordinating the whole process and providing a clear timeline of the project.

4. Understand the requirements

Thoroughly understand the requirements outlined in the tender document. Identify key deliverables, timelines, evaluation criteria, and any specific qualifications or documentation needed. This will form the structure of your bid and demonstrate to the client that you have a clear understanding of their needs.

5. Don’t rush the writing

It sounds simple but you need to ensure you answer each question fully. Every answer needs to present the correct information be compellingly written to score the highest points possible. As part of our tender writing management process, we have an open dialogue with clients, ensuring that no critical detail is missed. Make sure you also adhere to any word count limits or special directions regarding layout.

6. Emphasise experience and effectiveness

Where there is an opportunity, you need to showcase any relevant experience or achievements. Include case studies, testimonials and qualifications or certificates. Also emphasise cost-effectiveness or any other commercial, environmental or social benefits a potential client will gain from working with you over someone else.

7. Review and refine

Proofread your bid several times checking for accuracy, grammar and that word limits and criteria have been met. Ask colleagues to also review your bid. Do they have anything to add? Could you remove any words that don’t add anything to the submission to sound more concise? When we work with clients, we also ensure the sign-off process fully aligns to our client’s internal quality assurance and governance protocols. Uniquely, where appropriate, we also utilise specialist expert advisers to perform an additional panel review.

For more information or to discuss how we can work with your organisation to help you craft winning tender bids, contact us today on 0330 1331 041 or info@klowconsulting.com.

New bill will make it easier for businesses to compete for public sector contracts

A new bill is currently being passed through Parliament which aims to make it easier for businesses to enter public sector supply chains.

The Procurement Bill lays out new rules and procedures for central government departments, their bodies and the wider public sector when selecting suppliers and awarding contracts with a value above certain thresholds.

In this blog, we look at what the Bill means, and the ways in which it could benefit Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs) looking to work with the Government and public sector in the future.

What is the Procurement Bill?

To put it simply, the Procurement Bill will make it easier to do business with central Government and the public sector by breaking down some of the barriers which currently exist, particularly in organisations such as the NHS.

Looking ahead, contracting authorities will be expected to consider SMEs and VCSEs to ensure a level playing field for all. Particular focus will be put on communicating with new suppliers of all sizes and making sure bidding times are realistic, especially for smaller businesses who may not have access to dedicated bidding teams. SMEs may also find themselves in a better position than their larger counterparts with smaller overheads allowing them to put forward more competitive prices.

Other benefits will include:

Greater flexibility of an authority’s ‘commercial pipelines’ and details of opportunities worth up to £2 million published up to 18 months in advance. This will give smaller contractors the chance to plan ahead and make the most of any relevant opportunities which may arise.

The introduction of clear rules about how authorities can communicate with businesses ahead of releasing a tender, giving potential new contractors the chance to network more freely with the authorities without having to worry about falling foul of the guidelines.

The introduction of a central platform where clear information about forthcoming tenders is published making the entire process much more transparent. Businesses will be able to set up email notifications to alert them about bids tailored to them.

A ‘tell us once’ approach – which allows details to be entered into a central platform or database once regardless of how many tenders a business may wish to bid for. There will also be a more flexible approach from the authorities to awarding contracts.

A detailed assessment summary which shows how an unsuccessful bid compares against the winning applicant.

Support with contract management to ensure the successful contractor is able to deliver. New rules will also be introduced removing the need for insurance relating to the performance of a contract.

An enhanced commercial tool called a Dynamic Market will be introduced to allow suppliers to join frameworks at any time rather than being locked out of the process, providing many new opportunities for smaller businesses.

How will it benefit me and my business?

Knowing how to navigate supply chain routes into organisations including the NHS has always been challenging so a Bill which helps to smooth that process will be a huge benefit to innovative small business and organisations looking for a way in.

Greater transparency on all signs can only be a good thing and will enable businesses to be better informed about the opportunities available and the best ways to get involved.

Proper feedback about why a particular bid failed is also important in giving businesses the tools and information they need to grow and succeed and come back with a successful bid next time.

The legislation will allow an authority to award contracts to ‘the most advantageous tender’ without having to be constrained by whichever offers ‘best value,’ a huge step forward for smaller, more local businesses.

And 30-day payment terms will apply throughout public sector supply chains, regardless of whether they are written into the contract. This will mean that businesses will receive payment from contracting authorities within 30 days.

At K Low Consulting, we welcome these changes and look forward to the Bill being implemented as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you need help with commercial bid writing,bid management and strategy, get in touch with K Low Consulting today to see how we can assist you.

Contact info@klowconsulting.com or give us a call on 0330 133 1041.

K Low Consulting announces new director

David Oakes

We are pleased to announce that David Oakes, who has been working with us as a consultant for the last two years, has now joined the business as a company director.

David brings a detailed understanding of the health and social care bidding landscape drawing directly upon roles within local government commissioning, charity, third and the private-sector organisations. The experience allows him to provide clients with a detailed understanding of each opportunity, working with them to develop the bid ‘culture’ and associated strategies needed to deliver outstanding submissions – as evidenced by an 89% win rate across all submissions.  

David started working with our founder Krisja Low after meeting at the Minor Oak co-working space in Nottingham just over two years ago. They soon realised their skills and experience complemented each other and David has gone on to work for K Low Consulting on a variety of projects, showing dedication, commitment and passion to both the business and its clients.

David said: “I am hugely excited to come on board as a director at K Low Consulting. Our working relationship has really developed over the last two and a half years and works really well.

“I’m also really excited about the increasing number of tender opportunities relating to health tech. From virtual wards to the hybrid way of working, this sector is only going to grow over the coming months and years and that is great news for the innovative businesses developing and offering these services and technological solutions.”

To find out more about K Low Consulting and the services we offer, go back to the Home Page.

To contact David, email david.oakes@klowconsulting.com.

Virtual wards: An exciting opportunity for your business

Virtual wards are the future of healthcare

FOR many industries, the pandemic has had a lasting impact, fuelling many new opportunities for growth and change, particularly in healthcare where virtual wards are now commonly used.

It’s a process which largely began during the early days of lockdown, when businesses had to react quickly to find new ways of working remotely, embracing technology to ensure they stayed connected to their staff, clients – and even their patients.

Now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, some of these processes have remained in place, bringing with them enormous benefits – and exciting new opportunities – for healthcare providers and their patients.

As experts in the healthcare sector, K Low Consulting can help you learn more about these important developments, develop your strategy, help you create winning tender bids and grow your business.

What is a virtual ward?

Virtual wards allow patients to get the care they need at home, safely and conveniently, freeing up hospital beds for patients who really need them.

Supervised by hospital and community-based clinicians, virtual wards allow conditions such as coronavirus to be dynamically monitored while the patient stays in the comfort of their own home. For example, coronavirus patients can be discharged safely to a virtual ward with an oximeter – a small, lightweight device which measures the amount of oxygen in their blood. Readings are taken regularly and fed into the patients health tracking system. The system is configured to identify outlier readings, flagging these to both the patient and the clinical team for closer monitoring and escalation where required (either via video call or face-to-face visit).

The approach is all part of the NHS@Home programme which is building on the lessons learned from the pandemic, to enable patients to access personalised healthcare at home, rather than having to make appointments with their GP or make lengthy journeys to their local hospital.

It’s a growing trend which isn’t going anywhere. By December 2023, The Nuffield Trust estimates that the NHS will have 40-50 virtual ward ‘beds’ per 100,000 people.

What do virtual wards mean for my business?

The move to virtual wards is opening up new opportunities for businesses to get involved in the healthcare sector, particularly those involved in the manufacture of monitoring equipment including oximeters and heart monitors and healthcare providers, including care homes, who can demonstrate a clear technology strategy.

Businesses who can provide data management systems, which ensure patients’ data is managed securely and legally, are also likely to be in high demand.

How can K Low Consulting help me to expand my business?

When it comes to tender bids within the healthcare sector, we can help you to open doors.

We’ve successfully created hundreds of bids for our clients, leading to £1 billion in healthcare contracts for NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the public health sector.

We work with all stakeholders to fully understand the challenges, using these insights to help our clients showcase their strengths and demonstrate how their business is best-placed to offer the best solutions.

If you would like more information or if would like to be made aware when relevant tender opportunities come up in your industry or field of expertise, contact us today on 0330 1331 041 or info@klowconsulting.com to see find out how we can help you.

The accelerating role of technology in adult health and social care

Adult health and social care

On 1 December 2021, the government detailed new plans to accelerate the adoption and use of technology within the adult health and social care sector.

These plans were part of the ‘People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform’ white paper, which announced that £150 million of funding would be made available over the next three years to deliver a programme to digitally transform the social care sector.

Building on the ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’ strategy first published in June 2021, the white paper’s plans set out to harness the potential of data in health and care, while maintaining the highest standards of privacy and ethics.

During the pandemic, the adult social care sector began to embrace the digital technologies which became key to people receiving care. According to the white paper, 90 per cent of care providers said they will continue to use technology as they have during the pandemic.

What types of technology are used in health and social care?

The government plans focus on integrating software systems with the NHS and Social Care, enabling a more responsive and integrated approach to delivery. There are multiple workstreams sitting within the approach, for example:

  • Digital Social Care has been working with NHS Transformation Directorate to support the department’s commitment that 80 per cent of adult social care providers will have access to a Shared Care Record by 2024.
  • Third-party providers are creating ever-more innovative systems and technologies. This includes an enhanced role for remote monitoring and engagement (e.g. video assistants); Assistive Technologies (e.g. Augmented communication tools) ; and support platforms (e.g. systems that offer ‘controlled’
  • The roll-out of  Virtual Care Wards. These wards use monitoring technologies (such as Bluetooth enabled heart monitors) to remotely track the physical wellbeing of the individual with their home (or care home) environment. The system is configured to immediately identify ‘out of safe range’ readings, escalating these to the appropriate clinician for review and intervention where needed. This benefits both their quality of life and the ability of hospitals and other care settings to more efficiently manage finite resources and bed space.

Training opportunities for digital technology

Within the white paper, there is a clear recognition that care providers need more support to continue their digital transformation journey, particularly in terms of the need for additional training. This will support the development of digital skills in the social care sector.

This is to play a more prominent role in the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Framework refresh. Placing a greater emphasis developing digital training programmes and leadership qualifications so that the sector has the core technological skills needed to embrace and maximise the benefits of these emergent technologies.

What does this all mean for tendering opportunities?

The implications for tendering are two-fold. Firstly, there is an increasing number of tenders (single provider and framework) focused on identifying and sourcing innovative solutions. A tacit recognition by commissioners that there are technologies they are now currently aware of and so a real opportunity for new market entrants.

Secondly, ‘standard’ services (e.g. Community Care, Supported Living, Residential Care) are requiring bidders to have a clear roadmap to technological integration. This needs to demonstrate both the capital commitments being made alongside clear strategies for roll-out and upskilling of both end-users and the workforce supporting them.  

If you would like to be made aware when relevant tender opportunities come up in your industry or field of expertise, contact us today on 0330 1331 041 or info@klowconsulting.com to see how we can help.