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Header image for the current page Procuring a new Child Health Information System

Procuring a new Child Health Information System

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NHS England wanted to procure a new solution for the 12 Child Health Information Services operating areas in the West Midlands.

By proactively reviewing the required objectives, effectively engaging with the market and undertaking a thorough options appraisal, Arden & GEM CSU was able to procure a new contract from a single supplier. In addition to standardising processes and ensuring service compliance across the West Midlands, the contract has been able to secure financial savings of £4.4 million over the five year contract period.

The challenge

When children and families move around the country, or the world, there are many ways that child health records can be lost or misplaced. Between the ages of 0 and 5 every child receives more than a dozen important immunisations and needs to be screened for dozens more diseases. Only by ensuring child health records are as safe, accurate and up to date as possible can we ensure that every child gets the health interventions they need to grow up in full health.

In 2013, NHS England assumed responsibility for the direct commissioning of Child Health Information Services (CHIS). CHIS are patient administration systems that provide a clinical record for individual children and support a variety of child health and related activities, including universal services for population health and support for statutory functions. Immunisations and childhood screening services are dependent upon CHIS.

The procurement need was to secure a new solution based on a collaborative approach for the 12 CHIS operating in the West Midlands – covering a child population (0-19) of more than a million.

Our approach

Arden & GEM’s procurement team supported the NHS England project team to identify and bring clarity to the outcomes they wanted to achieve from a new contract through a facilitated steering group which included representatives from different areas within the region.

A review of current service provision was also conducted to establish a clear case for change. The key objectives of the procurement were to ensure:

As part of the engagement with the NHS project team, information systems were identified as a clear challenge with technology described as complex, disparate and fragmented. A provider review was able to specifically focus on this issue and establish that existing systems required upgrades and significant enhancement.

By conducting an extensive options appraisal we identified four clear options for change: to do nothing, to do the minimum, to select a number of new CHIS providers across the West Midlands sub region, or to select a single provider for the West Midlands sub region.

In addition to a thorough exploration of benefits and risks we also conducted expansive market engagement by the means of market questionnaires and a high profile bidder engagement event that included direct engagement with interested organisations. This helped to explore issues around optimal contract length, interoperability and realistic mobilisation timescales.

This provided a clear procurement direction and a preferred option of procuring a single service provider for all the existing contracts. This would also address the IT issues raised as only one licence and one system would be required.

A competitive open tendering process was used to carry out this procurement which commenced in July 2015. Arden & GEM provided the methodology whereby two or more evaluators were used to evaluate each section of the tender and disparities in marking were subjected to a rigorous moderation process. The evaluation process was also conducted to ensure that bids were evaluated to ascertain the most economically advantageous tender.

The outcomes

The procurement was completed and contract successfully awarded on schedule in November 2015, delivering the following benefits.

  1. Financial savings and cost equality – over the five year contract period, cost savings of over £4.4 million are estimated to be achieved. In addition the cost inequality from the 12 previous contracts (a differential of 680%) will be standardised and NHS England will have cost certainty for five years.
  2. Complete, accurate records – particularly for those children who are not born in an area but move in later, either from elsewhere in England or from abroad. This avoids children missing important screenings, immunisations, and health promotions as well as professional consideration for their welfare and safeguarding.
  3. Standardised approach across the whole of the West Midlands – which will reduce IT systems from four to one and lead to a significant reduction in the duplication of work and improve staffing efficiencies.
  4. Better service assurance – having a single provider enables simpler contract management and an increased ability to ensure compliance with a standard specification.

"The new system will ensure that not one child record is ever lost that all child records are accurate and up to date. Only by meeting these high standards is it possible to ensure every child receives the immunisations and screenings that they need to stay safe."

John Grayland, Public Health Commissioning Manager, NHS England

HSJ Value and Improvement in Procurement Award Winner

In 2016 this project was recognised at the HSJ Value in Healthcare Awards. In evaluating the project, the judges said: “Our winners clearly demonstrated a really good use of procurement process, from soft market testing, right the way through to contract award. An excellent example of collaborative approach and all CSU's across the country should be informed of this fabulous work.”


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