Contract expanded and extended
Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images
NHS Digital’s contract with Deloitte for the delivery of the online platform for booking coronavirus tests is now worth more than £50m.
The deal took effect on 20 June last year and was due to expire on 31 March. The engagement covers “the provision of digital solution design, build and live service of a digital platform, ordering portals and mobile applications to support the Covid-19 National Test Service”.
According to newly published procurement information, the contract will be extended, as demand for tests remains high and continuity of service is essential.
This elongation, coupled with the huge usage of the platform, means that Deloitte could earn as much as £51m from the contract.
“The services provided under this contract support the digital and data journey for Covid-19 testing, currently amounting to millions of tests each week, and have introduced new capabilities as the testing programme has evolved to support the pandemic response,” NHS Digital said. “The changing pressures of the pandemic due to the new variants in circulation and the increased rate of spread of the virus are both factors contributing to the criticality of ensuring that the testing services continue uninterrupted.
“Therefore, it is envisaged that the option to extend the contract is likely to be utilised to ensure there is no interruption to service, as this poses a significant risk to public health.”
The procurement notice does not specify how long the contract will be extended for, but the original tender published in June last year indicated that NHS Digital expected to work with the chosen supplier for up to two years, depending on how the “pandemic pans out”.
Despite the publication of a contract notice – which attracted 23 bidders – the deal was awarded as an uncompeted “negotiated procedure”.
This non-standard process can be used by public-sector buyers in circumstances such as when “only one supplier is capable of delivering the requirement, or due to extreme urgency brought about by unforeseen events”.
The deal between NHS Digital and Deloitte was entered into on 20 June – one day after bids closed via the Digital Marketplace.
That notice was published when a digital service had already gone live – but was, at that stage, only serving essential workers and the small number of tests for the general public that were available.
Deloitte had worked with NHS Digital as one of the “main suppliers” that supported this initial stage of work, the notice indicated.
It added that ongoing work over the course of a potential two-year contract was likely to be worth “up to £7m” to the winning bidder.
“Given the nature of the work this requirement may grow/flex as necessary,” it said.