We’ve all seen the worrying headlines about the growth in NHS waiting lists following the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Just this week it has been reported in the national news that the number of people on NHS waiting lists hit a 12-year high. At least 162,000 patients are waiting more than a year for routine operations and the total NHS waiting list for routine treatments reached 4.4 million at the end of October. More than a third of those patients had been waiting more than 18 weeks – the NHS target for waiting times, from referral to treatment.
As the NHS continues to suspend operations as it tackles the Coronavirus epidemic, experts are expecting to see these waiting list figures rise even further in 2021.
To tackle this growing problem, NHS bosses need to introduce additional capacity into the system and one of the ways they are looking to do this is through a concept called insourcing.
What is insourcing?
Similar to outsourcing, insourcing would see the hospital ask an external provider to get an activity, contract or job completed on their behalf using their own people and equipment. The difference with insourcing is that the external company would bring their own people and equipment to the hospital and manage everything on the hospital’s own site.
This is a growing concept and one which we can reasonably expect to see taking a strong foothold in the NHS in 2021 as it struggles to bring down the growing waiting lists.
What does the growth of NHS insourcing mean for businesses?
The growth of insourcing by the NHS is likely to present some tender opportunities for private companies or medical professionals in the healthcare industry.
The types of services that hospitals are looking to secure support with could include:
NHS inpatient and outpatient (including full supporting pathology and imaging) services and urgent elective care and cancer treatment to service users in line with nationally set criteria; and
NHS inpatient non-elective care (either direct admission or transfer from an NHS organisation).
Forward-thinking businesses in the health sector have already identified insourcing as a growing area. For example, UK and Ireland healthcare service provider, Totally, launched its new insourcing venture, Totally Healthcare, in October. It said it was starting the venture primarily to reduce NHS waiting times by providing a range of procedures and services within NHS hospitals, taking advantage of spare capacity typically during weekends and bank holidays. A few weeks ago, it revealed its insourcing services have secured significant contracts across its target markets and it now classes itself as ‘key partners’ to the NHS.
Who does the NHS want to work with?
NHS Commissioners are open to working with private providers of all sizes, for a wide range of clinical activities across the country. There are national frameworks like NHS SBS aimed at all size organisations and locations, alternatively we have seen individual NHS Trusts selecting exclusive providers to meet their local requirements.
All indications are that we will see insourcing playing a greater role in the immediate future of the NHS as part of its efforts to bring waiting lists down.
If you need help with commercial bid writing, get in touch with K Low Consulting today to see how we can assist you.
NHS England’s PDPS APMS Contract has now been released on January 23rd and encourages all GP providers who wish to bid in the future, to apply as soon as possible.
In case you haven’t seen our previous blog posts about the contract, the APMS PDPS Contract was announced in October and presented the launch of a new online procurement tool (Pseudo Dynamic Purchasing System, PDPS).
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) are seeking to launch a new online purchasing system (PDPS) where pre-approved GP providers can apply to join a list of pre-approved providers. Those providers approved to join the system can then be invited by local commissioners to bid to provide APMS services when local needs arise.
The contract is a 4-year procurement exercise managed through a new eProcurement platform and will see:
GP Providers appointed to an electronically managed list of approved providers
GP Providers can apply and be added to this list at any time during the 4-year period, unlike a traditional procurement framework,
Once approved onto the PDPS, GP providers can be invited via the ePlatform to respond to requests for APMS Services from local commissioners. These local ‘call-offs’ will be matched to the bespoke needs of local commissioners.
For more information on this, and a full description of the contract, please refer to this website:
As stated in our previous blog post, GP providers with an interest in providing routing and/or caretaker APMS services are encouraged to apply to be on the PDPS.
Any GP can apply for this contract and interest can be from a local GP contract holder within a Primary Care Network or a larger GP contract holder and other healthcare providers such as caretakers.
Please note that application to the approved provider list does NOT commit you to provide APMS services but does mean you will be able to bid when local needs arise. Thus, it is worth considering this contract carefully if you wish to bid for local services in the future.
As stated on the contract announcement, the deadline is 2024. Although, if a call-off happens you must already be on the framework to respond. It is critical that you consider applying as soon as possible for this contract.
To find out more information about the PDPS contract, please read our previous blog posts:
We’ve had a great year at K Low Consulting and are excited about the new year ahead! In this article, our team reflects on 2019 and looks ahead to the future of K Low Consulting.
In 2019, we have experienced significant and rapid growth. We have expanded our associate team, which includes bid professionals with significant writing and management experience, senior clinicians and specialist advisors, such as quality management and accreditation. Our team has been in high spirits throughout the year, keeping up with client demand and workload.
An intern from Nottingham Trent University’s graduate scheme, Mia Penny, was employed as a ‘Marketing and Tender Executive’. With the help of another associate writer from the team, Victoria, they have experienced some fantastic marketing wins in 2019.
“From September 2019 I joined K Low Consulting as a ‘Marketing and Tender’ intern after studying a master’s degree in Media and Public Relations at the University of Leicester. Since joining, I have been involved in different aspects of the business and have benefitted from hands-on experience from the outset. Krisja has helped me in developing my skill set and has guided me when learning new skills. Shadowing Krisja and being heavily involved in daily business activities has been challenging but exciting! I have particularly enjoyed being involved in Marketing the company and launching the website, which has resulted in some fantastic marketing wins at this early stage! I’m looking forward to the year ahead and seeing where my role at K Low Consulting takes me.” -Mia Penny, Marketing and Tender Executive.
Wins of 2019
Within our first year, we have had some fantastic results. Our STATS have been evidence of our work this year, we have had circa. 88% of client wins, 90% client retention and delivered 615% social return on investment for an £800k contract.
We strive to strengthen current partnerships with our clients in 2020, helping them to win more high-value contracts and develop their organisations even further. Looking ahead to 2020, we’re seeking to create more partnerships and build our client base.
Progressing on to a digital landscape, 2019 saw the launch of our website and social media accounts. Since the launch, we have had some remarkable results, including being on the first page of Google within 5 weeks of the website launch.
Some Testimonials from 2019
“Krisja and his team are knowledgeable about the Education industry and approached the tender in a systematic and organised manner. Although there was a tight deadline, they went above and beyond to involve themselves with our organisation and gather as much information as possible to produce an excellent tender response. They provided a fresh input into any potential issues and identified these in the early stages. For our most recent project with Krisja, we have been invited to the next stage and we are confident that we will win the tender. I would recommend Krisja and his team to anyone, and plan to work with him in many more projects in the future. Thanks again for the hard work.”
-Business and Resources Executive, Educational Establishment.
“… Thank you so much for the effort you and your team put in. You kept us on track throughout the submission process and although we only had a short amount of time to work on this tender, you covered every answer in-depth & we were very pleased with that we had pulled together! Pleasure to work with.”
Chief Executive Officer, Specialist Social Care Recruitment Provider.
“This is the second NHS dental tender we have worked with Krisja on. We won the first and are very confident of our chances on the second. He is always professional, diligent and flexible. His knowledge and input on healthcare bid strategy, delivery models, and commissioner perception is excellent. He always goes beyond compliance, to find creative ways of making our proposal the very best it can be!”
In 2020, K Low Consulting plans to continue assisting our clients to produce outstanding results. We carry through our ethos and values, continuing to win tenders for clients. There are also plans underway to deliver tender and funding workshops to Practice Managers after partnering up the Practice Managers Association (keep an eye out on details to follow!).
We’re also heavily involved in with the development and launch of an innovative Healthtech tool, MSK Gateway. This tool supports GPs to reduce appointment time, improve patient experience and outcomes. It enables GPs to manage their patients better by assigning them tailored exercises based on their symptoms. This year the tool will be launched into pilot practices, thus, we are looking for partner practices to use the tool to improve patient experience and outcomes. Check out the video below to see a promotional clip for MSK Gateway.
Contact Us Today
If you need help with tendering, give us a call today to see how we can assist you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0330 133 1041.
The tender process is often complex and requires close attention to the contract requirements and your organisations’ suitability to a contract.
As part of our services at K Low Consulting, we help clients to make a ‘bid or no bid’ decision in the initial stages of bidding. This often includes evaluating compliance and eligibility, commercial feasibility and competitor analysis.
After overlooking 100s of bids in different industries, it is often encountered that clients are keen to bid for a tender that may not be particularly beneficial to them. The attractiveness of a tender, therefore, is not a reason to bid. There should be careful consideration of many factors.
Providing critical feedback at the initial stages of bidding has placed us in a strong position to advise on how you can come to an informed decision regarding whether to ‘bid or not to bid’ for an upcoming tender.
Factors that may inform the ‘bid no bid’ decision
The bigger the contract, the higher the risk involved when bidding for a tender. Without carefully planning and evaluating if your organisation can deliver the contract requirements, you could be at risk of wasting time, money and resource by bidding for a contract that isn’t right for your organisation.
Here are some of the implications of bidding for a tender that isn’t right for you:
Bidding for a tender takes a considerable amount of time. From undertaking research and collecting evidence, the tender process can be long, complex and require a lot of attention.
Answers will vary from tender to tender, but often, some may require a lengthy response which seeks evidence on how your organisation can deliver the contract. Thus, it is critical that you have internal teams or external bid writers to allocate the correct amount of time needed to undertake the project.
Those in senior management positions usually have to collect the right resources for the bid, which means there may be less focus on training and managerial activities. Employing an external bid team, however, could ensure that time is saved and take the strain off internal bidding teams and senior management.
There are a lot of costs associated with tendering. If you are choosing to invest in an external bid writer(s), then this will be one of the associated costs.
Evaluating that your business can afford to implement a contract is fundamental. Thus, you must be aware of the additional costs associated with a new contract. It is vital that you understand your current delivery model and what it would take to deliver a new one.
Questioning: have we got the costs to scale up? Would be a good starting point. Some of the additional costs to implement a new contract may be:
Recruitment of staff
Marketing and advertising
Resource can easily be wasted if the tender that your organisation is bidding for isn’t right for you. We understand that for most SMEs, internal resources are crucial and need to be prioritised for bidding. By ensuring that we only bid for the most appropriate opportunities, we optimise where and how our clients deploy their resource. As mentioned previously, time is one of the most crucial aspects of bidding for a tender, and too much time and resource spent on a tender could potentially be wasted if you decide to bid without evaluating the impact.
Low win rates
Losing bids result in low win rates. You must analyse and understand where you are in the marketplace. Compliance is just first base; understanding that you have a proposition that could enable you to win is fundamental to optimising win rates. At K Low Consulting, we have a fantastic win rate of 88% and ensure that our clients have the right standing to bid. Before bidding, you should question the following:
Who are our competitors?
Where are we at with the delivery model?
Do we have a coherent strategy in place?
Making the ‘bid no bid’ decision
If you have found a tender that you want to bid on, there are many factors that you should consider before going ahead. At the very basic level, your organisation needs to fulfil the statutory requirements stated within the tender and have the right financial standing. Demonstrating your organisation’s capabilities in your answers, alongside evidence that presents added value, shows that you can deliver the contract requirements.
You must meet all the requirements for the contract. If you meet ‘most’ of the set requirements and not all, you will still lose the bid.
Thoroughly evaluating your standing as an organisation will help you when making the decision. There are many questions that you can ask to come to the right decision, some are:
Do you have an internal or external team in place to help support the bid?
Do you have time and resource to implement the bid?
Can you present added value to the bid, that will make you stand out amongst competitors?
Does the contract fit with your organisation’s strategic growth plans?
Have you completed tenders in the past, and if so, what have you learnt that will be beneficial when bidding for this particular contract?
Do you have the relevant evidenced experience to support your bid?
Are there any factors which would inform the ‘no bid’ decision? If so, what are they?
Is your team equipped to deliver the contract?
Does the contract align with your growth plans?
K Low Consulting’s approach to the ‘bid no bid’ decision
At K Low Consulting, we recognise that the ‘bid no bid’ decision is critical. Our initial consultation with you will outline whether we think you should bid or not, taking the strain and pressure away. We are open and honest with our clients from the beginning of the process, and unlike other tender companies, will not simply encourage you to bid for a tender for profitability. We will thoroughly evaluate your organisations standing and the likelihood of winning a contract. We strive for strong partnerships with our clients and want them to be aware of the best opportunities that align with their organisation’s strategic growth plans.
If you would like our help to decide whether to bid or not for a contract or to find out about our services, please contact us today on email@example.com or call 0330 133 1041.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
‘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’
‘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
‘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.
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”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and details.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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The five-year forward view presented plans to work towards a more collaborative and informative relationship between patient and healthcare professional. A patient-centred service means that patients are getting the best experience, putting patients at the centre of their own health and healthcare.
In this article, we provide some tips on developing a patient-centred service.
What is patient-centred care?
To understand how to develop a patient-centred service, it is imperative to know what it consists of.
Patient-centred care, as stated by NHS England, “starts with the patient”. It revolves around the notion that the patient is in control of their health and the healthcare services that are provided for them.
Patient-centred care represents collaboration, power and pro-activeness, as the patient works alongside a healthcare professional in partnership to design and shape their own healthcare based on their needs and goals.
To form a greater understanding of patient-centred care, an effective patient-centred service mainly centres around the following ideas:
The person is treated with dignity, respect and compassion
Communicating and coordinating care between appointments and different services over time
Care is shared between a community health service and a hospital
Care is tailored to suit individual needs and what they want to achieve
Supporting individuals to help them understand and learn about their health
Finding ways to help them get better, look after themselves and stay independent
Being involved in their healthcare decisions
Benefits of a patient-centred service
Having a patient-centred service benefits the patient, practice and the healthcare professional greatly.
As such, there are many benefits to a patient-centred service, such as:
It improves patient outcomes by supporting patients with long-term conditions to manage their health and improve clinical outcomes. When individuals play a more collaborative role in managing their health and care, they are less likely to use hospital services, stick to their treatment plans and take medicine correctly.
Patients have the opportunity and support to make decisions about their care and treatment in partnership with health professionals are more satisfied with their care, are more likely to choose treatments based on their values and preferences rather than those of their clinician.
Individuals can gain more knowledge, skills and confidence in managing their health and healthcare. In turn, they are more likely to engage in positive health behaviours, which in turn, will create better health outcomes.
Person-centred care is good for healthcare professionals too- it increases staff performance and morale.
Putting staff at the heart of a patient-centred vision
NHS England has been drafting a workforce strategy to get staff members involved, by working pro-actively to create a patient-centred care service, one that will benefit them as much as the patient. As one of the many stated benefits of providing this service, staff morale and performance is a result of better patient experiences.
As healthcare professionals are the ones that can help create this vision, they must be aware of how to create a more positive patient experience.
Developing a patient-centred service
To develop a patient-centred service, you must effectively engage with patients, monitor their experience and improve their experience based on their feedback. Asking people if they are receiving the care that they need will give a good indication on that basis and make them feel more secure and cared for.
1) Patient involvement and experience
The first way to develop a patient-centred service is to put the patient at the heart of the service and improve their overall patient experience. A key part of patient-centred care is the patient being actively involved in their own healthcare.
Making patients central to their healthcare involves working collaboratively with people who use the service to support their development, skills and confidence. Patient-centred healthcare largely involves patients making informed decisions about their own health and healthcare.
There are many aspects which allow the patient to have a better experience. Based on Picker’s Eight Principles of Patient-centred Care there are eight main components: respect for patients’ preferences, co-ordination and integration of care, information and education, physical comfort, emotional support, the involvement of family and friends, continuity and transition and access to care. As a foundation for building a patient-centred service, following Picker’s basic principles as a guideline may assist in developing this service.
Part of caring for patients also involves caring for their families; this is otherwise known as family-centred care. If the patient has the support and involvement of their families within their healthcare, they are more likely to react positively.
It all starts with the patient; listening to their needs and designing patient experience based on these needs.
2) Monitoring services
Monitoring patient experience is the key to developing a patient-centred service.
There are some examples of ways to monitor and evaluate patient experience. Some examples are as followed:
Friend and family surveys
GP Patient Surveys
Patient Member Participation Groups
3) Evaluating data based on feedback
Evaluating data and using it to improve on a patient-centred service, will give you the opportunity to focus on the areas that need developing. Surveys and feedback methods will give you the opportunity to improve your service.
Understanding what is being asked of the patient and analysing this feedback will help you move towards this.
As shown from the answers presented in this particular GP survey, patients are less satisfied with the appointment times available to them in comparison to how easy it is to get through to someone on the phone. All of these aspects form a greater patient experience.
Focusing and working on the areas that customers feel less satisfied with, will result in better patient experience and will form a more effective patient-centred service.
As seen from the table above, 34% of national NHS patients have not agreed on a plan with a healthcare professional to manage long-term conditions.
From the table below, a local GP practice shows that 83% of local patients did not have a conversation with a healthcare professional from their GP practice to discuss what is important to them when managing their condition(s).
As part of a patient-centred service, patients with long-term health conditions should have an active role in their own healthcare. As seen from the chart above, this particular GP practice is scoring low on this, suggesting there were no discussions about managing their conditions and stating their healthcare goals. Thus, this would not particularly represent a patient-centred service.
Thoroughly understanding and analysing selected questions such as these, and developing based on what patients are feeding back, will give a basis for professionals to work with when building and developing a patient-centred service.
These issues can be improved by:
Having regular discussions about the patient’s healthcare
Discussing the patient’s long-term health conditions and their goals
Ask the patient questions such as ‘What’s important to you when it comes to your healthcare?’ ‘What would make things better for you?’
Allowing the patient to be involved in making important decisions about their health
Involving the patient’s family in their healthcare
Setting out a plan of the patients’ health care conditions and practical steps about how to help them
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If you need help on a tender, contact our experienced team of writers today on 03301 1331 041. Alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and details.
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