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

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.

What is next for adult social care?

Social care

On 7 September 2021, the government set out its new plan for adult social care reform in England. This included a lifetime cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care, alongside a means-test for local authority financial support.

These plans were part of the Build Back Better campaign announced by the government which has been created to repair the health and social care systems following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like similar plans to revolutionise Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), the government wants to bring various agencies and organisations together to reform social care.

How will social care be funded?


From October 2023, the government will introduce a new £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime.

In addition to this, the upper capital limit (UCL), the point at which people become eligible to receive some financial support from their local authority, will rise to £100,000 from the current £23,250. The UCL of £100,000 will apply universally, irrespective of the circumstances or setting in which an individual receives care. The lower capital limit (LCL), the threshold below which people will not have to pay anything for their care from their assets will increase to £20,000 from £14,250.

As part of these changes, there has been a proposed amendment to the Care Act 2014 to the way that people within the means test progress towards the cap. This amendment, subject to Parliamentary approval, will ensure that only the amount that the individual contributes towards these costs will count towards the cap on care costs, and people do not reach the cap at an artificially faster rate than what they contribute.

To allow people receiving means-tested support to keep more of their own income, the government will unfreeze the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) for those receiving care in their own homes and Personal Expenses Allowance (PEA) for care home residents, so that they rise in line with inflation.

The cap will not cover the daily living costs (DLCs) for people in care homes, and people will remain responsible for their daily living costs throughout their care journey, including after they reach the cap. For simplicity, these costs will be set at the equivalent of £200 per week in 2021 prices.

The means test for financial support will continue to work in the same way as it does currently by determining what someone can afford to contribute towards the costs of their care based on their assets and pension.

What else will change?


As well as the Build Back Better policy proposals, the government also released a white paper in March 2022 entitled People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform, which went further to pledge fundamental changes to the social care system in the UK over the next three years.

These include:

  • Investing at least £300 million to integrate housing into local health and care strategies, with a focus on increasing the range of new supported housing options available
  • At least £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across social care to support independent living and improve the quality of care
  • Releasing £500 million so the social care workforce have the right training and qualifications
  • A new practical support service to make minor repairs and changes in people’s homes to help people remain independent and safe in their home
  • Increasing the upper limit of the Disabilities Facilities Grant for home adaptations such as stairlifts, wet rooms and home technologies
  • Up to £25 million to support unpaid carers
  • More than £70 million to improve the delivery of care and support services, including assisting local authorities to better plan and develop the support and care options available

What does this all mean for tendering opportunities?


With additional funding for adult social care products and services being released, that can only mean one thing – more tender opportunities and potential contracts.

Pushing the adoption of technology, training and qualifications and working with local authorities to develop support services all present fantastic opportunities for organisations in those areas.

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.

What is the NHS System Oversight Framework and what does it mean for procurement going forward?

NHS procurement

At the end of June, NHS England (NHSE) announced plans to transform the way integrated care systems (ICSs) buy non NHS goods and services in a document entitled NHS System Oversight Framework 2021/22.

But what is the significance of this framework? And what will it change for companies and organisations looking to land NHS contracts?

What is the NHS System Oversight Framework?

The NHS System Oversight Framework for 2021/22 replaces the NHS Oversight Framework for 2019/20, which brought together arrangements for provider and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) oversight in a single document.

The purpose of the document/framework is to reinforce the system-led delivery of integrated care, in line with the vision set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, the White Paper Integration and Innovation: Working Together to Improve Health and Social Care for All, and aligns with the priorities set out in the 2021/22 Operational Planning Guidance.

This framework applies to all Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), NHS trusts and foundation trusts and focuses on five key metrics:

  1. Quality of care
  2. Access and outcomes
  3. Preventing ill health and reducing inequalities
  4. People; finance and use of resources
  5. Leadership and capability

The approach to oversight is characterised by the following key principles:

a. working with and through ICSs, wherever possible, to tackle problems

b. a greater emphasis on system performance and quality of care outcomes, alongside the contributions of individual healthcare providers and commissioners to system goals

c. matching accountability for results with improvement support, as appropriate

d. greater autonomy for ICSs and NHS organisations with evidence of collective working and a track record of successful delivery of NHS priorities, including tackling inequality, health outcomes and access

e. compassionate leadership behaviours that underpin all oversight interactions

Implementation of the framework

While the scope of this framework reflects the role of NHS England and NHS Improvement as a national regulator of NHS provided and/or commissioned  services, it also recognises that ‘the vision for ICSs is based on the core principles of equal partnership across health and local government: subsidiarity, collaboration and flexibility’ and that ‘delivering the priorities for the NHS depends on collaboration across health and care, both within a place and at scale’.

But implementing the framework won’t be easy and straight forward.

NHS leaders are looking for specificity in how oversight will operate within a system context and there will need to be a high degree of flexibility to design approaches that best reflect local circumstances and maintain ownership and engagement across the full range of system partners.

But implementing the framework won’t be easy and straight forward.

NHS leaders are looking for specificity in how oversight will operate within a system context and there will need to be a high degree of flexibility to design approaches that best reflect local circumstances and maintain ownership and engagement across the full range of system partners.

When will the framework be implemented?

The existing statutory roles and responsibilities of NHS England and NHS Improvement in relation to trusts and commissioners remain unchanged for 2021/22. The framework sets out how NHS leaders and organisations will be required to operate with their partners in ICSs from April 2022.

The oversight framework will be updated further for 2022/23. The updated document is expected to confirm ICSs’ formal role in oversight including:

bringing system partners together to identify risks, issues and support needs and facilitate collective action to tackle performance challenges

and

leading oversight and support of individual organisations and partnership arrangements within their systems.

What does it all mean going forward?

The thinking behind the framework is that local NHS procurement teams will be able to change the way they buy non-NHS goods and services and move towards a more system-level way of working, and away from procurement teams dedicated to single organisations.

ICSs will be able to “tailor their procurement organisation structure based on their respective level of maturity, spend profiles, associated phasing of roles and local considerations” but the lack of data harmonisation at local, regional and national level and clarity around best practice approach could make implementation difficult.

With regards to companies who are looking to supply the NHS at a local level, they will have to keep an eye on how this framework develops between now and April 2022 and establish relationships with the ICSs who will soon be in charge of their own procurement and spending.

If you are looking for help with securing NHS contracts, contact the K Low Consulting team on 0330 1331 041 or info@klowconsulting.com.

Take control of your injury recovery with new self-help website, Online Physio Expert

Online Physio Expert

Restrictions brought in to control the Covid-19 virus have changed life as we know it. Not only has the pandemic dramatically impacted the way we live and work, but it has placed immeasurable strain on the NHS and medical services as frontline medical staff battle the greatest challenge they have faced in modern history.

New NHS England figures released this week show that in England in February 2021, around 4.7 million people were waiting for routine operations. These are the longest waiting lists since 2007.

Currently, almost 388,000 people have been waiting more than 12 months for non-urgent surgery. This figure was just 1,600 before the pandemic.

Many patients have held off seeking treatment for non-urgent medical complaints such as muscular injuries or unexplained aches and pains. Others have had routine treatment postponed or cancelled while the hospitals prioritise Coronavirus cases.

It is widely recognised that around 30 per cent of all GP appointments are musculoskeletal related problems. The demand for that treatment far outstrips the resource that is in place.
In some areas, the waiting lists for a community musculoskeletal service appointment can be more than 6 months.

Unfortunately, with some injuries and ailments, while you are waiting to be seen, the problem could be getting worse.

Self-manage your own care from home

We, at K Low Consulting, are working alongside a brand-new, free to use, self-help website Online Physio Expert, which helps injured individuals to get the care and support they need.

If it is difficult for you to get an appointment with a doctor, or if you feel concerned about the risk of visiting a hospital during the pandemic, this new service allows you to access helpful advice and exercises put together by medical professionals, from the comfort of your own home.

We do a lot of work with health and social care providers and we are conscious that because of the pressures that the NHS were under pre-Covid, let alone post-Covid, that the access to physiotherapy treatment is limited.

If you are unable to reach a medical service, which has been the case for many during the pandemic, then Online Physio Expert is the next best thing – and you can access it free, and without a doctor referral.

How Online Physio Expert works

The easily navigated homepage gives numerous options for visitors to choose from. You can identify where your pain points lie and then go through a series of movement videos and tests in order to work out how to proceed.

From there you will be directed to a whole video library of more than 1200 high-definition videos with exercises, from levels 1 to 4, to help you with your specific problem. The level you are given will depend on the severity and type of injury you have sustained.

A clinician will talk you through how it should be done, the common mistakes to look out for and where you should be feeling the stretch.

A patient is able to try different levels and amend their exercise plan dependent upon their ability and movement restrictions. People can use the tool to screen themselves and manage their own care. Online Physio Expert offers a free, appropriate and immediate access solution.

This fantastic tool has already brought great relief and improvement to numerous patients, who have each been able to create an online account through the Online Physio Expert portal and access a customised treatment programme, based upon your capabilities and current condition.

Why wait? Access free online physio today!


Musculoskeletal injuries are often quite acute injuries and the longer that it takes to access the appropriate physio treatment, the less likely that any intervention will do any good.

The range of movement and strength you get back after an injury often depends on how quickly you access physiotherapy treatment. It can be lifechanging in terms of mobility. For many, seeing someone six months later will have no impact.

We are advocates of getting the treatment you need without putting yourself at any unnecessary further risk and this new website allows patients to do that.

For more information or to try it for yourself, visit https://onlinephysioexpert.com

Waiting lists and the long-term future of the NHS

Waiting lists and the long-term future of the NHS

Healthcare waiting lists in the UK are reported to be longer now than they have been for about two decades.

In total, 4.52 million people are currently on NHS waiting lists and around 224,000 patients have been waiting for longer than a year.

Experts have warned the overall waiting list figure could double to as much as 10 million by April.

The worrying statistics have prompted NHS Confederation chief executive Danny Mortimer to state that even once the impact of Covid-19 is understood, waiting lists are ‘still going to be significantly higher than we have seen for a very, very long time’.

His views have been echoed by Professor Neil Mortensen, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, who has said there will need to be a ‘big plan’ to tackle the waiting list issue.

So, what might this plan look like? One solution could be ‘insourcing’, which we looked at in our December blog.

Reports have also begun to circulate about Government plans to shake-up NHS England in what could be the biggest health reform for a decade. The plans are set to reverse the changes made by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act which gave clinicians control over budgets and encouraged competition with the private sector.

When the 2012 Health and Social Care Act was introduced it did come in for some criticism. Politicians on the left disliked it because they saw the introduction of competitive tendering as a vehicle for private companies to undermine the NHS. Meanwhile, many on the right came to dislike it because of bureaucratic costs and confused lines of accountability.

New proposals

The new proposals would see central Government taking greater control of the NHS. Instead of a system that requires competitive tendering for contracts, the NHS and local authorities will be left to run services and told to collaborate with each other.

Although the plans say the pandemic had shown clearly that a broader approach to health and care is essential, critics have raised concern that the latest proposals are essentially rushing through the NHS Long Term Plan which includes plans to integrate health and social care into the Government. Others have questioned the sense of the Government launching these new plans whilst the NHS is still battling Covid-19 and is in the middle of the biggest vaccination programme in our history.

The worry is these changes will mean we move away from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) which are GP-led, towards further nationalisation of the NHS. Questions are already being raised as to whether this is a power grab by ministers which won’t necessarily improve patient care.

The current 2012 Health and Social Care Act also means most contracts need to go out to tender and, as a result, the process is very transparent. We don’t yet have all the details of how things will work under the new proposals but you only need to look back on reporting of the Government’s handling of PPE procurements to see why it has to make sure any new system is transparent. In its rush to procure PPE during 2020 it was accused of handing out ‘jobs to pals’.

Hopefully, we will see some improvements under the new proposals. For example, it is more likely that smaller social contracts which really would have been better going to local trusts in recent years will go to those trusts by default under the new plans. Having said this, specialist contracts such as physiotherapy or dermatology services may still go out to tender as not every trust has a local provider of such specialisms.

As ever here at K Low Consulting we will be following such developments incredibly closely so that we can help our clients to be successful in their bid writing efforts.

If you need help, 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.

Primary Care Networks: A Challenging Collaboration?

Primary Care Networks

Primary Care Networks are still in the early stages of formation and many people may be unaware or have little knowledge of them.  

Primary Care Networks were introduced in the NHS Long Term Plan in 2019 and since then, there has been the beginning of many formations to collaborate healthcare services for the benefit of patients and their healthcare.

Since the introduction of the NHS’s Long Term Plan, practices have organised themselves into their Primary Care Networks as of 15th May 2019 and all except a handful of GP practices in England have come together, resulting in around 1,300 geographical networks (Kings Fund, 2019, https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/primary-care-networks-explained).

Aiming to collaborate a workforce and form a more inclusive work environment to better the needs of patients, the particular challenges, risks and successes of these formed Primary Care Networks can be evaluated.

Questioning ‘are primary care networks a challenging collaboration?’, this article will provide a holistic overview of primary care networks, the potential risks and challenges and finally, the successes.

What are Primary Care Networks?

A Primary Care Network is one or more general practice’s working collaboratively together. This usually consists of networks of doctors and other healthcare providers such as dieticians, pharmacists and nurses.

Primary Care Networks ‘form a key building block of the NHS long-term plan’. Whilst there were some different ways of working together before the introducing of PCN’s, they aim to create a formal structure.

How are Primary Care Networks formed?

As stated on the King’s Fund, networks are geographically based and cover all practice within a clinical commissioning group boundary.

It is not a requirement that primary care networks are formed, but if practices choose not to join, they will lose out on significant funding. It’s also important to note that occasionally, a single practice can function as a network if they meet the size requirements. PCN’s will receive funding to employ additional health professionals such as pharmacists and paramedics to enable a greater formation.

Why were Primary Care Networks introduced?

The NHS were facing issues with increased demand in healthcare services. Patients were living longer, with more complex and long-term health conditions. These issues were also coupled with an understaffed workforce.

As a result, the introduction of Primary Care Networks aimed to alleviate the strain on healthcare staff, allowing them to work together to deliver primary care services.

The introduction of Primary Care Networks aimed to ‘build on the core of current primary care services’ enabling a more pro-active and co-ordinated workforce.

Primary Care Homes (introduced in 2015) were an approach to strengthening primary care. The model brings together a range of health and social care professionals to work together to provide enhanced personalised and preventative care for their local community.

On 31st March 2017, NHS England publishes ‘Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View’, which reviewed the progress made since the launch of the ‘NHS Five Year Forward View’ in October 2014. The revised Five-Year Forward View set out ‘practical and realistic steps’ to ensure the delivering of a more responsible and sustainable model.

Healthcare professionals were encouraged to work together, in networks of 30,000-50,00 patients, which built on the Primary Care Home model. Following this, in February 2018, refreshed ‘NHS Plans for 19’ was introduced. This plan set out the plans for CCG’s, encouraging every GP to be part of a PCN so that these could cover the whole country as far as possible by the end of 2018/2019.

The GP contract, agreed in January 2019, is a new extension part of NHS England’s five-year framework for GP services, named the ‘Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service’ (DES). This contract went live on 1st July and enables GP practices to ‘play a leading role in every PCN’.

As part of this contract, the DES announced that PCN’s must appoint a clinical director as their named leader, responsible for delivery. The network agreement states the rights and obligations of the GP practices within the network, how the network will partner with non-GP’s, and a patient data-sharing requirement.

Here are some key legislative dates as mentioned above:

2015: The National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) launched the Primary Care Home model at their annual conference
April 2016: NHS England introduced GP Five Year Forward View
2nd February 2018: NHS England introduced ‘Refreshing NHS Plans for 19’
7th January 2019: NHS Long Term Plan introduced
31st January 2019: GP Contract 2019/20 (outlines what PCN’s will be)
15th May 2019: Practices have to organise themselves into networks and submit signed network agreements to their clinical commissioning group (CCG).
1st July 2019: NHSE expects the network contract to provide 100% geographical coverage

Benefits of Primary Care Networks

As previously mentioned, PCN’s were introduced to allow GP and primary care services to scale up by grouping. As a PCN, workforces can team up to deliver as a larger entity and pull resource where needed.

PCN’s have the potential to substantially improve patient experience. One of the many benefits is that the accessibility of healthcare services increases, allowing them to have access to extended services.

In terms of other benefits, each PCN will encounter their own set of benefits individually. As provided below, success stories present two different sets of benefits for patients and staff.

Examples of these benefits as outlined in the success stories are:

  • Better work relationships and collaboration
  • A stronger focus on patient care and experience
  • Easier to identify key issues within the community through collaboration

Dr Nikki Kanani, a London GP and NHS England’s acting medical director for primary care stated: “people across the country will benefit from access to more convenient and specialist care through their local GP. As part of the long-term plan for the NHS, GP surgeries large and small will be working together to deliver more specialist services to patients”- Guardian.

Risks and Challenges of Primary Care Networks 

As health.org.uk and Nuffield Health outlined, there are a particular set of risks and challenges associated with PCN’s:

1. Speed

One of the most prominent risks of PCN’s is the speed of implementation of these collaborations. With such a tight set of deadlines associated with PCN’s, it may be difficult for people to familiarise themselves with PCN’s and then form their practices into networks within these time restraints.

As Nuffield Health illustrated, these tight deadlines could mean that failure was inherent form the policy design. It could be said that these timescales are unrealistic and ambitious, not giving professionals enough time to adjust to the rapid changes.

2. Funding

 In terms of deciding not to join a network, practices will miss out on the sources of funding. However, even if there is a formation of a PCN, there is a risk that there will be a removal of other sources of income for practices.

In addition to this, NHS England has promised to meet 70% of costs of employing most additional staff need for the PCN, meaning networks must cover the remaining 30% of the cost associated with this. This could be particularly costly for those practices that cannot afford this.

3. Workforce and workload

A particular risk associated with PCN’s is that they may decrease the amount of GP time available.

Additionally, there is no proof that the NHS is supplying 20,000 additional health professionals as stated in their plan. Increasing this workforce also means accommodating for these new staff members, which may pose a particular challenge for some GP’s where workspace is limited.

There could be a lack of operational support to realise the amount of PCN roles that need to be filled in this short time period. Additionally, some practices may not have the funding available to appoint new staff members.

4. Lack of collaboration

There is a risk that PCN’s may not be able to form effective organisations.

The knock-on effects of the lack of collaborations between practices are that there are disputes which could result in isolation and resist, creating further issues amongst networks. Thus, this could result in a lack of collaboration and the failure of an effective network model.

As stated on the King’s Fund website, the research found that collaboration in general practice was most successful when it had been generated organically over several years and if it was reinforced by trust, relationships and support. On the other hand, research has shown that a lack of clarity of purpose and engagement or over-optimistic expectations resulted in less effective collaborations. This suggests that collaboration and focus should be coupled together to form an effective PCN.

5. Lack of focus

There are a large number of objectives for PCN’s. The number of objectives that professionals must fulfil, may be unrealistic and put further pressure on them.

In 2020/21, there are five out of seven service specifications expected to be delivered. This heightened pressure on healthcare professionals may result in intolerable pressure resulting in a lack of focus.

Protecting Risks and Challenges of Primary Care Networks 

Although, as Primary Care Networks are still in the early stages of development, these risks and challenges could be easily rectified at this early stage.

Nuffield Health provides a series of possible solutions to these problems, some of which are provided as examples below:

Issue: Lack of collaboration/ not able to create effective organisations

Possible Solutions:

  • Create a new vision for primary care: defining what an effective PCN looks like and what can be achieved.
  • Carve out time (using paid backfill, ideally from CCG’S/STP’s) to build a shared organisational vision
  • Draft vision statements as practical documents
  • Create clear roles for each of the different levels of the local system

Issue: Lack of focus

Possible Solutions:

  • ‘Work with CCG’s and commissioning support units to undertake multi-level approaches to tackling population health and general operations’
  • ‘share learning across practices and governance levels in a neighbourhood to create a sense of shared ownership’

Issue: Speed

Possible Solutions:

  • ‘Policymakers should acknowledge that an organisational plan can take up to two years, and outcomes 5-10 years to realise’
  • ‘STPS/ICSs and CCGs should work closely with PCNs to agree roles, responsibilities, development plans, timelines and funding arrangements until 2025’
  • ‘PCNs leads and practice liaisons should jointly agree on the purpose of new roles and their contractual terms and conditions’
  • ‘CCGs should examine where their management support should be best placed- this role has had little attention to date in primary care workforce planning and funding’

Issue: Workforce/ Workload

Possible Solutions:

  • ‘create a shared physical space for the PCN and bring people together during their working day to talk about what they want to achieve’
  • ‘help clinical directors to improve the capacity and capability of their network by focusing initially on small, achievable initiatives that help or reduce workload in individual practices and build trust’
  • ‘Appoint leaders who have skills to make sense of the environment and set the direction, as well as managing the many different aspects of the organisation’s functions’

Successes of Primary Care Networks 

Despite the foreseeable risks and challenges to PCN’s, there have been a number of success stories which illustrate the impact that they have already made.

Yorkshire Primary Care Network

A success story on the NHS Confederation website discusses how a Yorkshire Primary Care Network bridged the gap between health and social care by linking up care in their region.

They sought to identify the problems that their patients had and work towards rectifying these issues as a PCN. One of the issues identified was that they had a considerably high percentage of older patients and they had to be attentive when caring for those patients, especially those who were on a terminal decline. Thus, they appointed a care co-ordinator and benefitted from the PCN team across the network.

Alongside this, a Parkinson’s nurse was appointed, a partnership with the York Teaching Hospital has been formed and a rapid cancer diagnosis pathway is underway.

Dr Evans, one of the doctors in the Yorkshire Primary Care Network stated: “The care of our patients is a lot more organized and anticipatory, and [there is] less crisis. But actually, more important, it works”

Chester East Primary Care Network

Chester East Primary Care Network who cover a network population of 37,020 patients.

There has been a substantial impact of this PCN, details of such are as followed:

  • ‘They have been identified by an independent audit on behalf of NHS England as an exemplar of best practice’
  • ‘They use a 0365 platform to share project information and documentation. This has provided visibility of project progress and support collaborative and agile working in the absence of shared file arrangements- dedicated programme support’
  • ‘Dedicated programme support has enabled the work to move at pace, providing a structure for everyone to feed into and embrace’
  • ‘CSU expertise within the programme management provided valuable support in sharing best practice across the network, using case studies to support current and future opportunities in collaborative working’
  • ‘created a robust governance structure has enhanced working relationships and provided visibility and clarity on roles and responsibilities across the network’

Their shared vision is: “Working together to deliver high quality, innovative and sustainable healthcare for our community with commitment, compassion and integrity”.

Successes of Primary Care Networks: Self Evaluation for Staff

As exemplified by the National Association of Primary Care, Figure 2 presents the outcomes of a questionnaire for staff. It shows the self-assessment by PCN supervisors, of how networks have improved the workplace. As shown, there is a lower demand for primary health services and patients are engaging more and benefiting from healthier lifestyles.

Figure 5 (as presented on NAPC.co.uk) also presents that improved self-management, healthier lifestyles and patient engagement has increased pre vs. post PCN.

Contact Our Team Today 

If you need help on a tender, contact our experienced team of writers today on 03301 1331 041.
Alternatively, send an email to info@klowconsulting.com for more information and details.

UPDATE: NHS England’s Pseudo Dynamic Purchasing System (PDPS) framework for GP APMS contracts

APMS

As the PDPS Contract becomes more prevalent, it’s important to be aware of important information.

We recently attended NHS England’s market engagement event in Leeds; the event provided updated information about the contract. This article, therefore, will act as a commentary following on from on our first PDPS blog post.

This article is aimed at those who intend to tender for NHS APMS GP contracts in the future.

Aims of the day

Mark Smith, NHS England – Assistant Head of Primary Care Commissioning, opened and chaired the event. Making it clear aims of the day were to run a split AM/PM session for Commissioners/Providers respectively.

With the contract notice going live on the 1st December and the PDPS going live in Jan/Feb 2020, it was clear that unless there was large Provider take-up, Commissioners without a mandate would not use the framework and would still proceed with the current procurement procedure.

Why Is the PDPS Contract Needed?

The main reasoning behind the introduction to this framework is to create commissioner and provider efficiencies. In turn, this will enable APMS contracts to be commissioned swiftly so that the service disruption is minimised, and patient care can continue to be delivered appropriately.

At the moment across all areas, commissioners are finding less interest from providers across the country to bid for APMS contracts. APMS procurements take around 6 months, and there is no guarantee that they will be successful. The past two years have shown a 10% failure rate in 2017/18 and an 8% failure rate in 2018/19.

Potential Issues with the Contract

One of the main foreseeable issues with this contract is the lack of notice and awareness that GP providers have of it. The NHSE attempts to address this by centralising and standardising the contract channel. However, by locking out non-framework providers, there is a danger that this may have the opposite effect.

It has been evident from our conversations with GPs at the recent Best Practice exhibition, and from the worryingly low numbers in the room that GP providers are unaware of this critical change to the way their contracts may be commissioned.

A big question is how are GPs supposed to know about the framework? Other than the usual contract notices, the answer is given that the message was pushed through local CCGs, who may or may not be passing on the message. It appeared those in attendance had registered either by chance or following their own contract monitoring activities.

How GP’s can be aware of the PDPS Contract and Do You Need to Apply?

The portal to be used for the procurement will be EU supply: https://uk.eu-supply.com/. This will host FAQs and any further updates ahead of hosting the actual PDPS tender process.

The initially proposed 6 rounds of the framework will have around 5-month lead times from entry to award. Please see the timescales captured below:

To Re-Iterate, only those Providers on the PDPS will be invited to tender for any contracts ‘called-off’ via the framework. Therefore, it is highly likely that unless a Provider applies for the PDPS six months in advance of a call-off being made, that they will miss the opportunity to bid.

Market Response for the PDPS Contract

To mitigate the potential impact and reduction in market response, attendees suggested:

  • NHSE should reconsider the length of the rounds, shorten the timeframe and make them monthly.
  • NHSE should publish all APMS contract expiry dates. Whether they will definitely be recommissioned or not, providers could make a decision themselves whether to or not, invest the time to get onto the framework, and do any initial research and model development in advance of the ‘call-off’
  • NHSE supports workshops where practice representatives come in and are supported to complete the PDPS application.
  • At the very least, they need to find a way to make this public knowledge to all GPs. Some form of mandated communication, explaining the very limited time commitment and simplicity of the application, should make it an easy decision for GPs to fill out the application and ensure they are not locked out for the next 4 years!

Digital First- A Risk to Local Providers?

A matter raised within the meeting was that there may be a potential risk to local provision. This is due to the fact that there appears to be an opening to digital-first delivery models. Providers can be accredited to all regions across the country. Some people may point to this as the reason why the fundamental procurement shift has been so under-publicised.

Contact Us Today

To enquire more about how to apply for this contract, contact us today on 0330 133 1041 or info@klowconsulting.com.

How to present an accessible healthcare service in a tender

Accessible Healthcare

Accessibility in healthcare has been described as a ‘global challenge’. As a prominent challenge that many healthcare providers face, developing and maintaining an accessible service for patients is an ongoing issue across the healthcare industry.

Regularly, healthcare tenders have a question centred solely or partially around accessibility. Therefore, answering this question to demonstrate how your healthcare service is providing accessible healthcare for your patients is crucial.

This article will focus on what accessibility in healthcare is and why it is important, how it can be improved in practice and most importantly, how to answer an accessibility question on a tender.

What is accessibility in healthcare?

The definition of accessibility is given in the name itself; it is all about providing accessible healthcare for all.

Having accessible healthcare services available for those who need them is critical as it allows people to get the appropriate healthcare resources in order to help maintain or improve their health.

In a human rights context, accessibility is described by the World Health Organization as: ‘health facilities, goods and services must be within safe physical reach for all sections of the population, especially vulnerable or marginalized groups, such as ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, women, children, adolescents, older persons, persons with disabilities and persons with HIV/AIDS, including rural areas’.

Healthcare accessibility is a broad scope and relates to many different aspects.

Accessibility, therefore, may mean:

  • Access to buildings
  • Communications with healthcare staff
  • Management of appointments

There may be a variety of reasons as to why patients cannot access healthcare services. Some of the reasons may be:

  • Lack of transport links. Those living in an urban area may particularly struggle with transport
  • Health-related conditions. Certain health conditions may mean that an individual cannot travel to the property
  • Financial barriers. Primarily for transport or service charges (e.g. dental or eye tests)
  • Organisational barriers

Why is accessibility in healthcare important?

As mentioned above, accessibility in healthcare is key because an individual who is restricted from healthcare access can suffer from further or more serious health-related issues. Consequently, it could lead to serious complications such as disease, disability and even premature death.

Healthcare Accessibility Questions on a Tender

A healthcare tender will usually involve accessibility in one form or another. Before answering this question, think holistically about the healthcare service that you are currently providing to patients.

Asking questions such as “what are we doing to make our healthcare service more accessible for patients?” and “what do we plan to do to improve accessibility in the future?” will help direct your answer.

When writing your answer, you may want to focus on these specific elements:

1) Location and Transport

The location and transport links to your service will need to be carefully considered. Are you located in a central part of the city? Do you have transport links to your practice?

Presenting that you have bus routes, car parks or express buses available for your patients, all feeds into the accessibility of your healthcare service.

If you have free parking bays nearby, or even a ‘park and ride’ option, stating this within your answer will show that your service is accessible to patients.

2) Appointments

For healthcare to be accessible for all, there needs to be appointments available for those who need them. Offering on the day appointments is ideal for those who need urgently seen to.

Appointments available out of hours, for example, 6-8 pm, or weekend appointments, will be made accessible for those who can’t make the standard appointment times. Again, having these additional services enables ease of access for those who work full time or have other commitments that mean they can’t get to the standard appointment hours.

Making these appointments easily available, via online booking systems or through telephone lines, is also imperative. If patients are unable to get through to the line, this is an indication that this healthcare service isn’t readily accessible for them.

3) Equal Access

Considering equal access to healthcare services is a crucial implementation within your answer. This will also enable you to present that your service adheres to best practice and the Equality and Diversity (2010) policy.

For this answer, implementing your Equality and Diversity policy and providing details of the training provided to staff which relates to Equality and Diversity, will be beneficial when demonstrating best practice. We have an article centred around Equality and Diversity that has further information about this.

Equal access ensures that those who are part of a minority, are vulnerable, have protected characteristics or particularly ‘hard-to-reach’ groups are being treated fairly and non- discriminatory.

Providing details of any additional work that you do within the community to help those that are disadvantaged or within a minority will add value to this answer. This could include work undertaken with the homeless or the elderly.

Asylum Seekers or individuals that are limited in their ability to communicate also form part of this group. Having a translation organisation in partnership with your healthcare service will again, improve the accessibility for those groups.

4) Domiciliary Appointments

Although domiciliary appointments may not be stated within the contract, providing these appointments to those who cannot get to the service, will demonstrate that you are considering these groups and have additional measures in place for them. Reflecting this within your answer, will again, be highly beneficial.

5) Demonstrating your patient care service

Indicating that you aim to provide an excellent patient-centred service will be rewarded when answering this question.

Showing that you have various methods of feedback in place and that you actively strive towards improving feedback points, presents that you are trying to provide the best possible patient experience; this helps patient experience and accessibility.

If patients are experiencing any problems in terms of accessibility, asking them what their problems are will help you make the right steps to improving this. Feedback can be done in a variety of ways, our last article outlines some methods of feedback and how to improve patient experience overall.

 6) Accessible Information Standard

The Accessible Information Standard states that from 1st August 2016, organisations providing NHS care and/or publicly funded adult social care are legally required to follow this standard. Being aware of this standard and reflecting that your service aligns with best practice is essential.

NHS England stated that organisations should:

  • Ask people if they have any information or communication needs and find out how to meet their needs
  • Record those needs clearly and in a set way
  • Highlight or flag the person’s file or notes so it is clear that they have information or communication needs and how to meet those needs
  • Share information about people’s information and communication needs with other providers of NHS and adult social care when they have consent or permission to do so
  • Take steps to ensure that people receive information which they can access and understand and receive communication support if they need it
  • Contact and be contacted by, services in accessible ways. For example, via email or text messages, receive information and correspondence in formats they can read and understand, be supported by a communication professional at appointments if this is needed to support conversation.

Contact Our Team Today 

If you need help on a tender, contact our experienced team of writers today on 03301 1331 041.
Alternatively, send an email to info@klowconsulting.com for more information and details.