The London Procurement Programme has carried out a number of online reverse auctions for care for patients who are physically frail, mentally ill and requiring end of life care.
The LPP, which was established by NHS London to maximise its purchasing power, conducted the auctions on behalf of the capital’s 31 primary care trusts. The aim was to create a contract from which commissioners will be able to choose providers.
Concerns have been raised about local authority reverse auctions for care. But the LPP insists that providers taking part had to show they could meet high quality standards.
Stuart Saw, chair of the LPP’s purchased healthcare steering board, said: “Quality has been embedded throughout the procurement process while at the same time making the most of taxpayers’ money.”
The LPP says it has conducted a rigorous procurement process for the PCTs and only short-listed care providers who met stringent technical and quality requirements. The reverse e-auctions were the final stage in the procurement process and took place over a six day period towards the end of May.
A spokesperson told E-Health Insider: “As the process covered the 31 London PCTs, care providers were invited to take part in e-auctions based on their geographical locations, in order to give PCTs a choice of local providers.”
The final three year framework contract will be available from this month. Saw added: “The new contract is designed to dramatically transform and improve the quality of care in nursing homes across the capital.”
However, the LPP also says the reverse e-auctions were a response to the Department of Health’s recently unveiled Commercial Operating Model; Necessity – not nicety. This aims to improve quality of care while maximising tax payers’ money.
The English Community Care Association, the largest representative body for independent care homes, has said it condemns the use of e-auctions for care.
Martin Green, chief executive of the ECCA, said: “The notion of treating services to vulnerable people in the same way you would procure pens and paper is a scandal. It is particularly outrageous at a time when the Department of Health talks endlessly about personalised quality services to deliver individual dignity.”
The LPP said care providers would still be part of a comprehensive performance management process to ensure quality of services their services is maintained.
“The quality requirements were fixed prior to the e-auctions and could not be changed as part of it,” the spokesperson said. “All care providers were advised prior to the e-auctions that the prices they submitted as part of the e-auction should not have a detrimental effect on their ability to meet the technical and quality service requirements.”