NHS delays £350m GP IT framework after legal challenge

Health service indicates that, following a claim against the process, there will be a delay in the award of a contract for the provision of digital service in primary care

The NHS has been forced to delay the implementation of a new £300m framework covering digital services for GPs, after a formal legal challenge was made to the procurement process.

Bidding on the Digital Pathways Framework closed in November, with the intention of suppliers being appointed to a four-year deal beginning in late January. But it has emerged that the implementation of the buying vehicle has been delayed, after an automatic suspension was triggered by a challenge made to the process.

This suggests that the claim against the procurement was filed in the 10-day cooling-off period that typically immediately follows a public-sector buyer informing bidders of the chosen suppliers to which it intends to award the contract in question.

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Such challenges can be issued, for example, where a losing bidder feels their submission was incorrectly assessed. Reports that a claim has been made against Digital Pathways were first revealed by HSJ.

According details published on NHS.uk, the framework is intended to provide primary-care settings with “new solutions to support patient pathways and assess patient needs, [which] includes initial online contact with a GP practice, navigation to the appropriate point of care, messaging and enabling patient interactions with the practice, and scheduling or booking appointments”.

Also covered by the single-lot contract will be tools to support video consultations and patients’ access to their medical records, as well as the ordering and issuing of prescriptions.

Over the course of its 48-month term, the framework is expected to be worth £297.6m plus VAT to the chosen suppliers, equating to a total estimated value of about £357m.

Sam Trendall

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