NHS investigation: Contract ‘lacked clarity’

The Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust administers the Becklin Centre at St James's Hospital, Leeds

The Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust administers the Becklin Centre at St James's Hospital, Leeds

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LEEDS and York Partnership NHS Trust (LYPFT) has claimed the financial criteria for the contract to provide mental health services in the York lacked clarity.

LYPFT’s complaint to regulator Monitor says the trust had significant concerns about how the longstanding need to improve services currently provided at the ageing Bootham Park Hospital in York and costs of out of area treatments would be funded under a prospective new contract with Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

It says it sought assurances on the price, given the areas of uncertainty, and the CCG insisted it was fixed. LYPT bid above the price and despite being judged as having a higher quality bid was ultimately told it lost out purely on cost. The difference between the two bids was just 0.5 per cent.

LYPFT says the CCG was subsequently challenged on how the potential variables had been calculated in the evaluation process. The letter to Monitor says that despite earlier assurances on the price being fixed the CCG then acknowledged that the “cost to commissioners would inevitably change over the period of the contract and that you would expect some degree of variation.”

The letter says: “Given the uncertain nature of these significant, discrete elements in the financial envelope (and that different bidders are likely to have been operating /bidding on different assumptions and figures in this regard), the financial evaluation would not appear to have been transparent to provide a fair basis to distinguish between the bidders.

“The Trust contends that given this uncertainty in the financial model there is not a justification to discount a bid which had been judged a better clinical service for patients.

“The Trust respectfully requests that Monitor consider whether the financial methodology and evaluation is sufficiently robust and transparent as required under the 2013 Regulations. The Trust has not been allowed access to the financial details of the bid from TEWV so it is unclear as to whether the bidders have submitted tenders on the same or differing assumptions which could well skew the cost and the scoring and therefore the outcome of the Procurement.

“This concern is pertinent given that the finance has been repeatedly stated by the CCG as the reason for the failure of the Trust’s bid.”

The CCG has denied acting in any way other than in accordance with public contract and NHS regulations during the tendering process.

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