NHS organisations are now required to take social value into account when procuring goods and services. We take a look at the latest procurement guidance to see what insights it has to offer.
Social value in the NHS
From the beginning of April 2022, the reach of the UK Government’s Social Value Model has extended to the commissioning and purchase of goods and services by NHS organisations, as well as those acting on their behalf (collectively known as in-scope organisations). To support this move, NHS England has published ‘Applying net zero and social value in the procurement of NHS goods and services’, which provides step-by-step guidance for procurement teams when it comes to applying the requirements within the context of the NHS.
As we’ve written previously, the Social Value Model sets out the government’s social value priorities for procurement and includes a menu of social value objectives centred around five themes:
- COVID-19 recovery
- Tackling economic inequality
- Fighting climate change
- Equal opportunity
Applying social value
Adopting the central government’s Social Value Model complements strategic initiatives and policy within the NHS, including the 2019 NHS Long-Term Plan, and its commitments within the 2020 Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service report. The adoption will also be supported by a new Sustainable Supplier Assessment available in 2022. So how might in-scope organisations apply the requirement of the model to an NHS procurement contract? Some of the key takeaways from the guidance include:
- To support the delivery of net zero carbon across the NHS, the Social Value Model theme of ‘Fighting Climate Change’ must be included in all NHS procurement either in the technical specification, through the social value criteria or a combination of both. You can therefore expect to see this theme included where it is appropriate to the service requirements.
- It is at the discretion of the in-scope organisations to decide the level of emphasis to place on net zero and social value in a procurement, at or above the 10% minimum. This will depend on the type of product or service being procured. Examples are used in the guidance to assist procurement teams in deciding how weighting should be distributed, e.g. you can anticipate that a logistics contract is likely to focus on low/zero emission vehicles, while cleaning contracts might place a higher emphasis on employment practices.
- Within the guidance are examples of health-focused questions that in-scope organisations can include within their tender documentation, and which are mapped against the Social Value Model themes. For example: Detail how, through the delivery of the contract, you will reduce the amount of single-use plastic used for both packaging and products that will be provided. For anyone who wants to get an insight into the types of questions that might be included in future tenders, this is a useful heads-up.
- Purchasing authorities will be looking for suppliers to provide clear metrics relating to their social value commitments in their tender response that form a contractual requirement at award stage. Against the example questions in the guidance are contract management KPIs, which again provide a useful starting point.
Although in-scope organisations will need to decide what social, economic and environmental themes from the Social Value Model are relevant to each tender, the ‘Applying net zero and social value in the procurement of NHS goods and services’ guidance provides a useful insight for any bidders who want to begin planning ahead to get a competitive advantage.
For more information on responding to social value and sustainability tender questions, visit our dedicated division The Social Value Practice, contact us free on 0800 612 5563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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