FAQs about community services

We announced the outcome of our community services re-procurement on 8 November 2016. Throughout the re-procurement we published a range of information, including details of why we carried out the exercise, how we involved people, along with some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

We have produced the updated FAQs below following the outcome of the re-procurement.

What are community services?

This is the name for a wide range of care and support commonly provided in clinics, health centres, GP practices and sometimes directly in patients’ homes.

These services include district nursing, community matrons, blood testing, foot and leg care, treatment rooms, continence services, pain clinics, diabetes clinics and speech and language therapies.

Good community services are crucial to achieving the vision we have set out in our Shaping Sefton programme. We call this vision community centred health and care, with patients, GP practices and community services at its heart. 

This means that over time, we expect all healthcare, including community services to better join up with the range of other organisations that are often involved in providing an individual’s care, so services are provided in a more seamless way. In addition, we are committed to providing health services as close to people’s home as possible whenever it is appropriate and safe to do so.

Our new provider of community services will be working towards this vision of community centred health and care.

So what is changing?

For patients, there should be no noticeable change in the care they currently receive from community services and the staff who deliver them as a result of our re-procurement.

Put simply, this change means that there will be a different organisation managing community services from May 2017, following the outcome of our re-procurement or re-tendering exercise.

This process helps to assure the CCG that these services continue to meet the needs of our patients and offering them best quality and value into the future.

Who will be the new provider?

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust will hold the contract for community services from May 2017.

Why were these services re-procured?

CCGs review the services they commission on an ongoing basis in line with their legal and statutory duties. When a contract comes to an end, they have a legal and statutory duty to further review and re-procure (or re-tender) services to ensure they continue to offer the highest quality and best value services possible for their residents.

You can see a range of information that we published during the community services re-procurement, including FAQs relating to the process and timescales we worked to.  

How was the new provider chosen?

Re-tendering processes must comply with stringent procurement laws, so they have extremely thorough processes governing how they are carried out.

Services that are being re-procured are advertised and organisations interested in delivering them in the future are invited to submit bids. Once initial bids are received there are a number of different processes and checks to shortlist the final bidders. These organisations are then asked for more detailed bids, which are assessed against key areas like quality, finance and governance.

The panel that carries out a final assessment includes a number of independent patient, medical and professional representatives.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust was able to demonstrate that it would be able to provide higher levels of quality and value than other organisations who submitted bids.

Is this about saving money?

No. The value of the new contract is the same as the existing community services contract. Additionally, it will include a standard NHS inflationary uplift, so it will be slightly higher than the amount we paid for these services in 2015-2016.

Quality standards have been a crucial focus of this re-procurement.  

How were local people involved in this process?

Ahead of the procurement we began speaking to local people about their experiences of community services and what they expect from them in the future.

This helped us to set quality standards in our specification for community services, and bidders were asked to demonstrate how they would meet these standards if they were successful in the re-procurement process.

An independent patient representative was part of the panel that carried out the final assessment of the shortlisted bids.             

What will this change mean for patients and local residents?

Importantly, this change relates only to the organisation managing these services in the future and not direct patient care. So, anyone who regularly uses community services should not notice any change during the switch to the new provider.

What will this change mean for community service staff?

The medical and professional staff that currently provide community services are highly skilled and deliver quality care to patients on a daily basis.

Their local knowledge and experience of the people they care for is greatly valued and essential to providing high quality services into the future.

Importantly, all re-procurement exercises are subject to stringent NHS workforce regulation and employment laws, including TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employment) regulations. These provide existing staff with particular safeguards in respect of their employment.  

How can an organisation from outside the area provide our local services?

Lancashire Care will continue to provide community services from the local clinics and other venues that are currently used. Services will continue to be delivered directly to patients by the same staff as now.

This type of arrangement is common right across the NHS. There are hundreds of examples of where organisations hold contracts and deliver high quality services to populations many miles away from their home base. An example in Southport and Formby is ear, nose and throat services.

Whilst patients receive their treatment in premises at Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, patients see staff from Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. In addition, some cancer services at Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals are provided by the Wirral based Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology. 

Why couldn’t the existing community services contract with Southport and Ormskirk Hospital just continue?

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has held the contract for community services since 2012. NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) extended its contract with the trust on two occasions.

Through ongoing engagement with the public, the CCG had previously stated its intention to review community services in line with its 5 year strategy. The governing body agreed at its meeting in July 2015 that in discharge of its responsibilities to ensure that the services it commissions are safe, effective and affordable, to re-procure those services in accordance with its statutory duties and relevant procurement laws.

Was the hospital excluded from bidding for the community services contract?

No. The re-procurement exercise was open to all NHS and non-NHS providers.

The procurement process we used involved stringent and thorough measures to ensure all bidders were treated equitably and transparently to ensure our patients benefit from services managed by the best provider possible.

What does this mean for the future of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital?

Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS trust has held the community services contract since 2012, when it was last awarded.

Prior to this its core focus was on delivering high quality hospital services. This will be no different from May 2017, and we will continue to work closely with Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust to ensure local residents carry on benefiting from appropriate and effective hospital based care, at the time when they need it the most.

Good connectivity between hospital and community services will continue to be paramount for effective patient care.

Indeed, our Shaping Sefton vision for community centered health and care sets out this commitment - to commission as much healthcare as possible as locally as possible, working closely with patients, carers, GP practices, hospitals and other health and social care partners. 

Did NHS Southport and Formby CCG work with other CCGs on its re-procurement?

No – we carried out a sole re-procurement exercise for community services – it is important to note that this is entirely separate to the re-procurement that NHS West Lancashire CCG carried out.

West Lancashire CCG is re-procuring for some different, additional services and it is using a different process to re-procure these services, with different restrictions and timescales.

How can I find out more?

Community services have an integral role in our 5 year strategy for improving healthcare. We believe that all local health services need to provide more joined up care, in order to provide patients and carers with appropriate quality services. Joined up care is about hospitals, community services, GPs, social care, the voluntary sector and other partners working more closely together to deliver the best services for our local population.

We are committed to providing as much healthcare as possible as locally in the community as possible, working closely with patients, carers, GP practices, and a range of other care professionals, so hospitals can concentrate on providing more specialist care.

You can find out more about our 5 year strategy and our vision for community centred health and care from the following links.