NHS Frameworks – An Expert Guide
NHS frameworks are the perfect way to secure new business opportunities for your organisation. On an annual basis, the NHS spends billions of pounds within the procurement industry. These procurement opportunities can range from consumables, works, services and much more. With such a wide range of opportunities out there, it can be challenging to know where to start.
Here, we will explore the information needed to ensure your business succeeds in securing a place on NHS frameworks.
What are NHS frameworks?
An NHS framework agreement is a form of tendering contract. Here, the NHS, as the buyer, is seeking a supplier to deliver goods, works or services. While tenders often focus on a single supplier delivering the required product, frameworks aim to establish a multi-supplier agreement. These agreements are often over a longer term of between 2-10 years.
The process is similar to that of an average tendering contract. The buyer will issue a notice for suppliers where they can submit a bid to provide their services. Once these bids have been submitted the buyer can then review each bid. At this point, the buyer will be able to create a list of approved suppliers. These suppliers will then be awarded a place on the NHS framework agreement.
From here, whenever the buyer has an opportunity or project available, they will have their list of pre-approved suppliers available. Often, there will be a mini competition held to select a preferred supplier from this list. This is a lot simpler than the normal tendering process as most information will be readily available. The award can be based on performance, location, and availability. Alternatively, the buyer may allow for a direct award.
Ultimately this form of agreement will reduce the amount of time and stress involved in the tendering process.
What are the advantages of being a supplier on NHS frameworks?
As we have already established, there are many advantages to using NHS frameworks to secure work. However, the benefits are limitless.
Here is a breakdown of the top 5 advantages of securing work via framework agreements:
1. They are an easier way for small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to secure work
When you start tendering for work, the whole process can feel daunting. Many buyers require contract examples and prior experience. As an SME, you may feel as though your business won’t stand out from the crowd. You could have the capabilities; however, a bigger or more established organisation may pip you to the post. NHS frameworks offer the perfect solution to this. As multiple suppliers can be admitted onto the agreement, you will not be competing in the same way. Similarly, the more suppliers the framework allows, the better your chances are of securing a place on the agreement.
2. Long term revenue
On average, a framework agreement lasts for 4 years. NHS frameworks tend to follow a structured process where estimated values are clear. By combining these two factors, framework agreements can provide businesses with structured, long term, revenue. Having this financial stability can make all the difference when planning for the future of your business.
3. Accepting work that is convenient for your business
Similarly, these long-term agreements can help when building your pipeline of work. It is extremely important to know when you finish one project, your organisation has another lined up. With framework agreements, you know you have potential work waiting for you. As well as that, you are under no obligation to accept work that arises as part of the framework agreement. You ultimately have the freedom to accept the work which is more convenient for your business.
4. Building professional relationships
An NHS framework is a fantastic opportunity to work with public sector industries. Once you have been approved by the sector you can gain opportunities to secure more public sector work. You may be asked to extend your contract or given a reference for a more competitive project. Having these contract examples under your belt is also crucial to obtain contracts when tendering for work. These business relationships can last for the duration of your career and open a lot of doors for your organisation.
5. Saving time and effort
Tendering can often involve a long and rigorous process. It can feel never-ending when submitting multiple bids for opportunities. However, with framework agreements, you can save a lot of time and energy and still get a few contracts under your belt. Once you have been accepted onto a framework, you will be on a pre-approved supplier list. This means when an opportunity arises the process will be a lot shorter. Ultimately, NHS frameworks are an extremely efficient way to secure work.
Who commissions NHS frameworks?
NHS framework agreements, alongside other procurement methods, are primarily commissioned by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). These groups replaced Primary Care Trusts in 2013. They are locally based and clinically-led NHS bodies who are responsible for procurement and commissioning within their area.
CCG’s are involved with assessing the needs within the area and making plans/ decisions based on these needs. CCG’s must constantly review these needs due to local circumstances changing rapidly. As they are responsible for the wellbeing within the local area, solutions must be constantly improved. This ultimately results in a substantial amount of new NHS framework opportunities arising.
In relation to the changing needs of communities, and how commissioning can impact this, the NHS Clinical Commissioners stated:
The commissioning system is continually evolving. We represent our members’ views in national debates on the future of commissioning by producing policy briefings and influencing documents.
One of our early influencing documents was Local solutions to national challenges (2015), which put forward a series of key “asks” to give clinical commissioners the freedoms and flexibilities they need to make even more of a difference in transforming healthcare locally.
Our publication The future of commissioning (2016) set out our vision for the future of clinical commissioning, based on feedback from our members.
More recently, Steering towards strategic commissioning (2017) outlines what CCGs need to support their strategic commissioning ambitions and get there at pace.
We followed up our 2017 publication with a joint publication with NHS Providers, Driving forward system working (2018), which examined the changing relationship between commissioners and providers in the context of system working.
Is my business eligible to work with the NHS?
As the United Kingdom’s primary healthcare provider, the NHS can be quite an intimidating buyer, particularly for SME’s. A common assumption is that the NHS can only work with larger, more established organisations. However, this is certainly not the case. NHS commissioners actively seek suppliers who span across a range of levels and offerings.
The NHS is a publicly funded healthcare system for the United Kingdom. This means the NHS must comply with the public sector regulations. When using public money for purchasing, contracting authorities must be fair and transparent. The UK government currently has a target to spend £1 in every £3 with SME’s to support these growing businesses.
John Allan, National Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:
"The government has much to gain from opening up public procurement to smaller businesses and we welcome the government’s commitment to achieve this ambitious target. To meet it, the government will need to focus on robust monitoring and challenge of poor practices wherever they are found. The FSB will play its part, and will work with ministers on this important goal.”
How to secure a place on NHS frameworks
After finding an NHS framework, the next logical step is to submit a bid and secure your place. As you probably know, this is easier said than done. Developing a bid that is tailored to your business and the scope of work can be a lengthy, time-consuming process. There are so many factors to consider while trying to convey your competitive edge.
This is where Hudson Succeed can help. Hudson Succeed has a wealth of knowledge and experience in securing places on NHS frameworks. Our dedicated team thrive in creating bespoke packages to suit your bid writing needs. The main packages include:
- Our Tender Writing service – taking over the full bid writing process.
- The Tender Ready programme – a preparation programme for those new to tendering.
- Tender Mentor – for making sure your bid is the best it can possibly be.
- A Tender Improvement package – to assist businesses who are not seeing successful results from their tendering efforts.
If you require support in securing a place on NHS frameworks, please get in touch with us today.
Where to find NHS frameworks
Knowing where to find NHS frameworks can seem like a daunting process. There may be a significant number of opportunities to suit your business, but no way of finding them all.
The good news is Healthcare Tenders is here to help. Healthcare Tenders is an online tendering platform, hosting hundreds of new opportunities in this sector from around the UK. We have a range of private and public sector opportunities.
Here is a breakdown of the top 3 unique features of Healthcare Tenders:
1. Time-Saving Benefits
Every week we search thousands of sources. This ensures you have access to all available public and private sector opportunities within the UK. We understand you are busy and may not have time to log in to the portal every day. So, we also send you a daily bulletin email to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities.
2. Tailored Support
We don’t rely on CPV codes. Instead, we tag these tenders by hand with industry-driven keywords. This means you will get access to 100% of all available tenders, relevant to you. You also have access to a dedicated Account Manager who is on hand to answer any general or technical queries. They will inform you of any specific opportunities they believe may be suited to you. Our clients receive tailored support that meets their individual needs.
3. Bid Support
You have access to 20-minutes of free consultation every month with a member of our Succeed Team. Here, they can answer any questions and give you advice on anything you need concerning your tendering journey.
For more information, or to book a free live demo, please visit the Healthcare Tenders website.
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