Job planning, temp staffing: NHS England tosses out £30m for HR and people systems to support new ways of working

NHS England, the organisation responsible for the management of the country’s National Health Service – and the UK’s largest employer – has offered £30m in a tender for HR and staff rostering systems.

The framework agreement has set out to attract suppliers of “eRostering, job planning and temporary staffing software solutions” to help the service adapt to new ways of working made necessary by the introduction of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). The new programme is designed to help join up hospitals, general practice and community-based care, and is part of the strategy described in the NHS Long Term Plan. Critics have said ICSs give politicians “too much power”.

A tender document, which describes the Health Systems Support Framework, said: “NHS England and Improvement have determined a requirement to expand the scope of the [framework] in order to provide access to workforce and HR solutions which can help to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan and NHS People Plan. As such we are developing a new workforce service category and, under this procurement, are opening up the [framework] to bids from suppliers of eRostering, job planning and temporary staffing software solutions.”

The framework is divided into three lots, which unusually start with lot zero. Lot zero looks for “innovations” to “address a health and/or social care challenge”.

Lot 1 is the main framework, intended to “provide access to solutions which can help the NHS to become a truly modern employer, enable evidence-based change, utilise national and international recognised best practice and innovations in workforce management, deployment and development of staff,” the tender document said.

The lot includes technologies such as finance systems, time accounting, business intelligence, analytics and forecasting.

The tender said the procurement seeks “solutions, software and implementation support to produce multidisciplinary, service-line job plans, based upon optimal patient pathways and organisational needs” and “support sophisticated business intelligence and reporting to improve operational and financial performance, productivity and talent management”.

Lot 2 is the so-called framework lot and any firm getting on to the lot zero, or lot 1 automatically gets on lot 2.

Contracts for all the above are set to last for four years in the first instance, although could be extended. The procurement will be open for tenders until 9 October 2020.

According to UK health policy research organisation The Kings Fund, the integrated care systems which the new framework is designed to support “are part of a fundamental shift in the way the health and care system is organised”.

For several decades the NHS had been organised into autonomous commissioners and providers, but ICSes are designed to create collaboration between the groups and “a focus on places and local populations as the driving forces for improvement”.

“Despite being effectively mandated by NHS England and NHS Improvement, ICSs and STPs are currently voluntary partnerships as they have no basis in legislation and no formal powers or accountabilities,” the Kings Fund said. ®

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