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Helping the NHS Buy Smarter

Clinical Advisory Panels (CAPs)

We set up Clinical Advisory Panels to review products.  Members of the CAP are serving on behalf of NHSScotland and we expect them to put national interest before personal, local or specialty consideration.  We expect CAP members to be transparent in their approach and confirm that any commercial interests do not conflict with the process.

The procurement process

The public sector in Scotland is subject to strict rules under European procurement laws. These laws make sure that the processes are open, honest and fair for all suppliers.

Before we send out an Invitation to Tender (ITT), the CAP define and agree weighted evaluation criteria which cover technical, quality and commercial aspects.  The criteria might include:

  • clinical evidence of effectiveness
  • patient/operator safety
  • product functionality/technical merit
  • clinical training and support
  • price competitiveness
  • commercial service and support.

When we receive the tenders we evaluate them against the agreed and published criteria.  It is important that only people who are qualified to evaluate the areas score these so the CAP will evaluate the clinical aspects while the procurement experts within NP assess the commercial criteria.

The scores are combined and the contract awarded to the supplier with the highest score.

Types of contracts

The most cost-effective contracts are commitment contracts where the contractor commits in law to supply a certain number and type of products and these are used wherever possible.  For medical equipment and sundries it is often more practical to use framework contracts where NHS boards can buy from one or more suppliers at prices agreed within the contract.  These are usually ranked so the board should buy from the preferred or No 1 supplier unless the supplier cannot meet the particular need, in which case the board busy from the No 2 supplier and so on.  There are usually no more than three suppliers on a ranked framework.

What happens next?

For each contract awarded, we produce a report setting out the opportunities and benefits from the contract and how these can be delivered (CAREB).  Most NHS boards have dedicated staff who make sure the national contracts are implemented locally.

Performance management

We measure the contract implementation through data from both suppliers and NHS Boards. Formal quarterly performance reviews conducted at Health Board and Health Board consortia level help us develop the next generation of contracts in each commodity area.

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