NHS signs £25m tech and data partner to support vaccine programme for next two years
Consultancy will support data flows and booking platforms
The NHS has signed a £25m contract for a commercial partner to support the technology and data systems that underpin national vaccination programmes.
Newly published procurement documents reveal that NHS Digital signed PA Consulting to a two-year deal that came into effect last week and runs until 12 April 2024. During that time, the firm will provide support to the operation of the IT platforms that serve ongoing Covid-19 vaccination schemes, as well as rollouts of flu, HPV, and MMR immunisations. Screening programmes may, at some point, be added to the scope of the contract, which also covers the provision of services related to “interoperability, long-term… technology strategy and outcomes”.
The contract identifies five core digital services run by NHS Digital in support of vaccinations.
The first of these is to enable healthcare providers to “identify and create population cohorts for eligibility”. The second is the provision of communications platforms to “invite and provide channel-based access to services”, while the third covers public-facing national booking systems that “enable population self-service and supported access to services”.
The penultimate service that PA Consulting will help support is intended to “capture” information from vaccination sites and “facilitate the recording of clinical and supporting data for pathways”. The final core offering relates to “data integration [and] ensuring sharing of data to support ongoing clinical need”.
Of particular importance is ensuring that IT systems “continue to link national and local booking systems”, according to the contract.
The document adds that the management consultancy will also be tasked with helping “coordinate and assure third-party systems to capture and manage vaccination events”.
PA will also help NHS Digital – which is in the process of being integrated into NHS England – to “oversee the clinical safety, quality, and security of the solutions within each of the vaccination settings”, while ensuring ongoing “improvement and optimisation of services and associated data flows”.
The contract added “[NHS Digital] is committed to making sure the right data and technology solutions are in place for Covid-19 and related programmes to be delivered safely and efficiently. The NHS Digital team delivering the tech and data workstream is a blend of NHS Digital staff, arm's-length bodies, other NHS organisations such as CSUs (commissioning support unit) and external supplier resources. There is an integrated landscape of systems, national assets and technical capabilities employed to deliver one of the most successful programmes in the history of the NHS. The people who support this programme bring a diverse skill set and series of profession-based capabilities.”
The contract does not specify how many people PA will be asked to provide or in what roles, but rather outlines that the company will be expected to offer a “flexible resourcing model” that allows the NHS to tap into additional capacity as required.
The firm will be paid £25m over the next two years, with the contract also providing for an optional extension of six months.
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