Bidding opens on £800m NHS Digital framework

Procurement vehicle will appoint a small selection of suppliers to support development of services

Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

Bids are open for an £800m framework which is designed to allow NHS Digital to “develop strategic relationships” with a small selection of suppliers of software-development services.

The health-service technology unit wants to identify about 12 firms willing to commit to “invest in understanding [its] specific organisational needs and to bespoke delivery of… services to meet requirements” across the NHS.

Suppliers may be asked, via individual call-off contracts, to provide comprehensive service development, or support with progressing a service through an individual phase. 

The goal of the procurement vehicle, the tender process for which is being run by the Crown Commercial Service, is to support NHS Digital – and other health and social care organisations around the country – in delivering “digital outcomes and supporting services”.

NHS Digital has defined four categories of services that will be covered by the contract, the first of which is “DevOps services”, which will address the need for support for digital services that are already live and operational.

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The second category is “build and transition services”. Suppliers in this area will be tasked with “either separately combining beta phase and/or retirement phases – including transition to live”.

The penultimate service area is “end-to-end development”, where NHS Digital wishes to work with providers “with the ability to combine the full set of agile phases of discovery through to live”.

The final area addressed the framework will be “data management”’, which will entail “building, enhancing and maintaining data assets, migrating data from one system to another and analysis and reporting from such data assets”.

“Typical digital development will follow Government Digital Service life cycle: discovery, alpha, beta and so on, outlined in the government service design manual,” the contract notice said. “Suppliers will deliver work using GDS agile methodologies.”

It added: “The framework is intended to address the evolving technical ‘stacks’ associated within the different pillars of NHS Digital, including: platforms and infrastructure; product development; [and] data services.”

The framework, which will not be divided into lots, will last for four years from a scheduled start date of January 2021. The deal comes with an estimated value over its lifespan of £800m.

Individual service-development projects will be subject to call-off competitions, with no directly awarded contracts.

“This framework will have a manageable number of suppliers with whom NHS Digital can develop strategic relationships over a sufficient period of time, to warrant upfront investment in framework-level supplier-agnostic competition, whilst maintaining effective and efficient competition at call-off,” the contract notice said. “Building of closer strategic relationships will encourage suppliers to improve and innovate on their delivery of services. This will be achieved through ongoing collaborative partnership or supplier relationship management activities based on feedback from call-off contracts and MI (management information) reports.”

Bids for a place on the framework are open until 24 September.


Sam Trendall

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