Our blog post in June 2021 ‘Reform in the health and social care sector’ outlined the core issues the sector faces, and the Government’s response in the form of the white paper published in February 2021. The Health and Care Bill is currently at the committee stage in the House of Commons, but we can already see the white paper’s influence on the ground, with the establishment of 1,250 Primary Care Networks and 42 Integrated Care Systems covering all of England.
Primary care networks (PCNs) are the local unit of governance for providing primary care. They are based in GP practices, led by a clinical director who may be a GP, general practice nurse, clinical pharmacist or another clinical professional, and typically service 30–50,000 patients. PCNs come together to form larger Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which cover populations of one million or more, and are tasked with working collaboratively to determine local needs, map and plan resource allocation, agree strategy, and strengthen collaborative working.
One of the core issues is that whilst Integrated Care Systems are to be the focal point of the new Health and Care Bill, they are not currently statutory (until 2022), and there is scant guidance as to how to establish or operate them. This somnambulant approach to planning has resulted in significant differences in ICS’s levels of integration, methods of working, and results achieved to date.
Where policy goes, tendering will follow
Despite the lack of a national blueprint for ICS development, Health Education England, a body which leads on national level healthcare workforce initiatives and training policies, has tendered to formally establish ICS level training hubs. These training hubs are mapped onto the 42 ICSs across the country, and are tasked with:
- Understanding, influencing, supporting, and leading educational interventions around population health and health inequalities
- Developing workforce planning and training needs analysis based on the needs of the local population
- Supporting NHS England’s Additional Role Reimbursement Scheme by providing structure and guidance to the newly appointed professionals
- Identifying need for continuous professional development in the primary care workforce and sourcing and/or delivering specific training
- Maximising staff retention across the sector
- Supporting PCNs and practices who wish to become a ‘learning environment’ for trainees and students.
Recently a new client came to us for support in writing their tender submission for providing the training hubs, presenting a fantastic opportunity for us to engage with this national-level initiative.
Planning, interviewing, and writing
As with any tender, the first step was planning extensively. As this is a brand-new initiative, this involved reading the latest information from Health Education England, NHS England & Improvement, fully understanding the remit of the ICS training hub, and researching the client’s position in relation to the specification. The second stage of the planning process involved creating answer outlines, ensuring that the question was thoroughly deconstructed and suggesting avenues for investigation during the interview process.
The interview process with our client took place over Teams, and after introductions were made, our bid writer led the client through each question, asking detailed questions to ensure that we had sufficient information to create comprehensive responses.
The challenge of this tender submission was to capture the scope of the client’s existing provision within the limited word count; a challenge we regularly see in tendering. In addition, the client was one of five local partners, all of which were local level training hubs which came together to form the ICS level training hub. As such, it was critical to show how they were already working together effectively and demonstrate that forming a consortium and mobilising for the contract would not pose a challenge. The responses highlighted relevant experience, leadership profiles and case studies, and clearly demonstrated that the client was a well-established provider of the training services.
Supporting clients to tender for new initiatives
This project was an example of supporting a client to be at the vanguard of a large, national-level initiative, utilising our knowledge of the sector to guide the interview and write compelling responses. As the health and social care sector changes as a result of the Health and Care Bill, we will be keeping a keen eye on developments, and will be in a position to help write or review responses for emerging tender opportunities.
Contact us to discuss how we can support you in tendering for a contract today.