Associations tell government to stop future NHS tenders
The ADG and the BDA is calling on the government to stop all future NHS tenders for orthodontic services.
In a joint letter, they ask Health Secretary Matt Hancock to outline how the government plans to compensate practices for the recent collapse of the NHS tendering process in the West Midlands.
Abandoned after six months, tender process left some providers £30,000 out of pocket, the BDA claims.
‘We write on behalf of the British Dental Association (BDA) and the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) to express our very serious concerns about the current NHS England national procurement of orthodontic services,’ the letter says.
‘We request an immediate review and halt of any ongoing and future procurement of orthodontic services.
‘The current tendering activity is excessive, costly and poorly managed.
‘It has seriously and adversely affected ongoing patient care and continuity of treatment, led to fragmentation of provision and caused significant cost (both in terms of financial outlay and wasted time cost) to both dental providers and commissioners.
‘All of this has occurred with a shortage of specialist orthodontists, falling morale amongst practitioners, and increasing cost pressures.’
NHS tenders a race to the bottom
The BDA has recently described the tendering process as a race to the bottom to deliver NHS services.
Some contracts in NHS Southern region have already been handed back by successful bidders owing to lack of staff.
The letter outlines the significant costs involved for providers looking to participate in the NHS tender process.
‘We are particularly concerned that NHS England proceeded with an overly complex, fragmented and bureaucratic process despite the fact that procurement legislation allows for significant flexibility in the award of healthcare services,’ the letter continues.
‘Indeed, this flexibility is recognised by the NHS Long Term Plan.
‘This also highlighted the wasteful legal and administration costs on protracted procurement processes.
‘NHS commissioners have failed to take into account patient choice, the importance of continuity of care for children mid-treatment, wider health inequalities in relation to dental care access or indeed any alternative approach that would have allowed for a simpler and more flexible award and extension of contracts, particularly given the nature of the Personal Dental Services contract.
‘It was and remains open to NHS England to take a more pragmatic and sensible approach.
‘One that would have taken into account nationwide challenges in orthodontic recruitment and much-needed investment for services.’
The BDA is calling on all parties to stop tendering for further NHS orthodontics contracts.
NHS England abandoned the current tendering process in the West Midlands recently with the below email sent to bidders.
‘Further to our previous communications via the portal extending the standstill period for this procurement, I am writing to inform you that, after considering the process undertaken very carefully and after receiving legal advice, NHS England has taken the difficult decision to abandon this procurement process.
‘NHS England will therefore not award any contract under this Batch 2 process.
‘This encompasses lots CM1 to CM13 and lots WM1 to WM11.
‘NHS England has decided it is unable to make an assured, unequivocal award.
‘NHS England will make any announcements concerning any future procurement process for the provision of these services in a manner that is accessible to all potential suppliers.
‘Thank you again for your time and effort in participating in this process.
‘Yours sincerely AGCSU’.