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AQP in elective services, requalification of existing independent sector providers

17 December 2013

College Members may be interested in an exert from the NHS England Clinical Commissioning Group Bulletin from 12 December 2013 regarding requalification of existing independent sector providers from March 2014.

AQP in elective services, requalification of existing independent sector providers

Under the NHS Constitution patients have a legal right to a choice of any qualified provider for their first outpatient appointment.   NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts are contracted to provide such services through the NHS Standard Contract.
In 2010 Primary Care Trusts ran local any qualified provider(1) procurement exercises to contract with the independent sector providers who had previously been providing elective services through the centrally held Extended and Free Choice Network contracts, moving these providers onto the terms of the NHS Standard Contract.  In the main, these contracts with the independent sector will be coming to an end in March 2014.  CCGs are responsible for the re-contracting process.
To ensure that free choice of provider in elective services continues uninterrupted, procurement guidance from Monitor and NHS England to be published shortly will make clear that, where existing qualified independent sector providers are performing satisfactorily against their contracts, CCGs should award a further contract without running a further requalification procurement process for these providers.  This is consistent with the approach that would be taken for awarding a contract for elective services to NHS trusts or Foundation Trusts.  It would not be good value for money for commissioners to introduce a process requiring any providers who are performing satisfactorily to go through a requalification process, unless there are specific reasons for doing so, for example, because the commissioner has decided to change the quality criteria.
Under the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations, any qualification process must be transparent and non-discriminatory; (for example any new qualification criteria would need to apply to all providers) and commissioners must not refuse to qualify any providers of elective services that satisfy the criteria.   In accordance with procurement requirements, commissioners must continue to ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to allow potential new providers of elective services the opportunity to qualify and provide such services.
(1.    Under AQP, providers deliver services at tariff with no volume guarantees)’