NHS seeks £7m supplier to take over coronavirus testing website

External provider will need to ensure ‘service is accessible, automated, and successfully scaled’

Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

NHS Digital is seeking a supplier to take over ongoing development and support of the online platform underpinning the Covid-19 testing service.

The website is still in alpha mode, but is live and allows the public to book drive-through or at-home coronavirus tests. It was initially developed by NHSX and NHS Digital currently holds responsibility “for the digital elements” of the testing service. This work is supported by suppliers including Kainos, TheServerLabs, Difrent, AWS, and Deloitte Digital.

From August, and for up to two years thereafter, NHS Digital is seeking an external provider to “perform the development and delivery of this service going forwards”. 

“The digital elements of the testing service require further development to meet the ongoing emerging demands and to ensure this service is accessible, automated, and successfully scaled,” the contract notice said.

NHS Digital expects that the site will shortly need to support the daily distribution of 30,000 home-testing kits – twice the current total of 15,000 that are being sent each day. The site may also, at some point, need to allow citizens to book antibody tests.

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“The day-to-day management of the service needs to be hardened so that service is fully resilient, scalable and automated, with effective monitoring and alerting in place,” the notice added.

The deal will be worth up to £7m over the course of two years – but the engagement will be based on short-term objectives, which may curtail after the early stages, depending on how the pandemic proceeds and the resultant direction of government policy.

“The overall term of this contract is expected to be up to 24 months, but this will depend on how the current Covid-19 pandemic pans out,” NHS Digital said. “We expect there to be significant development and delivery work within the first three months of this contract but, after that, we may not need to issue any further statements of work. This will depend on what happens with Covid-19 in the UK.”

All work will be carried out remotely “for the foreseeable future” and the chosen supplier can continue to work remotely even once guidance on office working has been relaxed. Offshore options will be considered.

Bids for the work are open until midnight on Friday.


Sam Trendall

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