The Health and Social Care Act 2012 represented a major overhaul to how healthcare services in the UK were organised and delivered. The introduction of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) is just one part of this, with responsibility for sourcing and delivering services decentralised and handed over to NHS organisations within local areas. This has been accompanied by the Transforming Community Services programme, which saw primary care services transferred to community health NHS trusts. Local authorities have similarly been handed greater autonomy over how health services are delivered.
The overall effect has been a rapid expansion in the past three years in opportunities for private companies to tender for primary care services, including the running of general practices, community pharmacies, dental surgeries, optometrists and eye clinics, and hearing care providers. Alongside this, there has been an increased number of tender opportunities for wellbeing services, including smoking cessation, addiction treatment and rehabilitation, weight management and general wellness services.
Increased opportunities to tender writing for primary care and community health services bring their own set of unique challenges. Companies or individuals submitting tenders to CCGs, NHS trusts and local authorities for primary care tenders should bear in mind the following three top tips to increase their chances of being awarded contracts.
Our 3 top tips for Writing Primary Care Tenders are:
Tip 1 — Focus on Integration
Whether they are a CCG, a hospital, an NHS trust or a local council, every authority is focusing on integration and joined-up services. Within each tender, you should expect to answer questions on integrated care pathways. Your aim should be to convince the evaluator that service users will move seamlessly between providers who are all working towards shared outcomes. As well as the benefits to patient experience, seamless pathways represent a reduction in bureaucracy, and you should be capitalising on this to mirror the principles of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. By showing that you will develop care partnerships with other providers, you can give a clear impression of how your service will support the healthcare landscape of the local area.
Tip 2 — Create a Community Service
Closely related to integration is the need to demonstrate a community service. One of the key ideas behind the changes to the healthcare system was decentralisation and the empowerment of local areas. To show that you are a forward-thinking, progressive provider of primary care, you should maintain a local focus. How does your service respond to the specific needs of people living within the community? How does it reflect local demographics? More importantly, how does your service empower the local community to look after its own health needs? These are the key areas that differentiate a strong tender from a weak one, and by exploring these ideas you can demonstrate an evidence-based, sustainable service.
Tip 3 — Minimise Risk
The risk aversion of local authorities is a key consideration for every service, but it is especially pertinent for healthcare tenders. Reputational risk is high wherever a service provider works directly with patients, and the successful tenderer will always demonstrate how patient safety will be managed professionally. You should outline a robust approach to risk management and clinical governance as a whole. Consider how you will minimise the likelihood of any incidents, and how you will follow a process-driven response if a risk is realised. Overall, your aim should be to inspire confidence that people entering your service will receive services that are high-quality and safe.
Although tendering for primary health contracts can be challenging, by applying these three top tips you will give yourself a stronger chance of winning – good luck!