NHS opens bidding on £1bn PC and print framework

Suppliers sought across six lots covering a comprehensive range of end-user devices

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The NHS has opened bidding for a four-year framework for the supply of PCs and other devices. The deal is expected to be worth up to £1bn to the chosen suppliers.

The Link 3 framework will be split into six lots, the first five of which will respectively cover: desktop PCs; laptops; tablets; specialist healthcare hardware; and printing and scanning devices.

The final lot will be for suppliers that can offer a “one-stop shop”, providing all or most of the goods covered by the previous five sections.

The incumbent Link 2 vehicle – which has been in place since 2016 and expires on 12 December – is made up of 10 lots, including the same categories as the incoming framework, as well as specialist sections for clinical monitors and displays, sustainably sourced hardware, deployment services, and third-party warranties. 

The new deal includes clinical monitors in the healthcare hardware section, and specifies that each of the six lots will also include “warranty and lease options, deployment services, as well as green [or] sustainable options”. 

The framework is being administered by NHS Shared Business Services, a joint venture between the Department of Health and Social Care and IT consultancy Sopra Steria. Working alongside NHS SBS will be the North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative, an NHS buying group whose 36 member trusts are based primarily across the midlands and the north.

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Link 3 is due to come into effect on the day after its predecessor expires – in less than three months’ time – meaning that, in order to ensure continuity, NHS SBS has left itself a limited timeframe in which to complete the bidding process, assess bids, award contracts, and deal with any queries or legal challenges from unsuccessful suppliers.

Bidding for a spot on one or more of the six lots is open until midday on 14 October. Over its potential four-year lifespan, up to £1bn is expected to be spent via the framework.

All NHS bodies will be able to buy through the vehicle – as will other organisations across the breadth of the public sector, should they so wish.

According to procurement documents, the first lot, dedicated to desktop computers, will include suppliers that can provide “small form factors, micros, all-in-ones, [and] thin- or zero-client devices”. Also featuring in this section of the buying vehicle will be monitors and other peripherals.

The laptop lot will feature “notebook devices, rugged devices, two in ones, thin and lightweight clients”, while the tablet segment will include “wraparound, detachable, [and] phablet” devices. Both lots will also offer buyers related peripherals.

The lot for specialist healthcare-related computing hardware is seeking firms that can deliver “mobile carts – including PCs when purchased together – infection control products, mobile clinical assistant devices for use in point of care and mobile environments… LCD and HD monitors, large format, multi-display-mode monitors, and displays suitable for end-user applications: including, but not limited, to PACS, endoscopy, [and] mammography”.

The fifth lot will feature a range of printers, scanners, and barcode-reading devices. These products must “enable tracking and traceability within corporate, healthcare and retail environments”, NHS SBS said.

“Use-case examples [include]: product management and visibility; stock management; asset management; estates management; medicine management; patient identification and management; [and] point-of-care delivery in healthcare,” it added.

Suppliers that make the grade for the final ‘one-stop shop’ lot will be those that can offer “a selection of IT hardware and service including at least four of the following categories: desktops; laptops; tablets [and] slate computers; specialist healthcare-related IT hardware; clinical monitors; medical displays; green sustainable IT hardware”.

The incumbent Link 2 framework features a total of 12 suppliers across its 10 lots. With inclusion on nine of these, Softcat leads the way, ahead of fellow IT resellers Centerprise, SCC, Stone, XMA, and Insight, and vendors HP and Dell, all of which gained a place on four or more lots.

Parity Computers features on the two lots for specialised healthcare technology, while licensing and IT provider Software Box made the cut on the tablet lot, and two firms – Dacoll and Esteem Systems – gained a place solely on the segment for third-party warranty providers.


Sam Trendall

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