Find tendering opportunities on the Supply2Health website if you or your practice are interested in putting in a bid for a local APMS practice or Darzi centre. Many contracts were for an initial five years, ending next year.
Review your practice's/team's capabilities and the contract requirements to ensure you can take on the extra work.
Be clear who is submitting the bid - GP, partnership, company or bid team. If your bid wins, the contract will be with that person or organisation.
Prospective bidders should ensure that their organisational structure complies with NHS Pension Scheme eligibility requirements if they want staff employed under the contract to have access to it.
You must be able to demonstrate organisational robustness and have the internal policies/procedures to deliver the contract terms.
Undertake 'due diligence' checks, particularly where existing staff or premises will pass to the successful bidder, and identify potential problems and liabilities.
Consider the premises issue. Will the services be provided from the bidder's premises or accommodation provided by the commissioners or a third party? If required to take a lease, get expert legal advice on its terms.
Bear in mind TUPE - the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 - if bidding to take over part/all of an existing service. Staff contracts will be transferred to the new provider, along with liabilities relating to the transferring employees or arising from the acts or omissions of the existing service provider.
As a successful bidder you may be able to get indemnities, but this is unlikely when dealing with any potential TUPE issues as this is a complex area of law.
Follow the tendering process to the letter and meet every deadline. The different steps in the process typically include:
- Tender advertisement.
- Pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) - completed to demonstrate bidder suitability.
- Invitation to tender - if you pass the PQQ test. Prospective bidders should scrutinise the contract information provided and seek legal advice on the terms and conditions.
- Bidder information events - hosted by the commissioners for potential bidders to obtain information.
- Submission of bids -delivering your final, technical proposal, outlining how the services will be provided. Bid submission could constitute agreement to be bound by the terms of the proposed contract if successful, so should only be submitted if you are certain you can comply.
- Evaluation - the commissioners will analyse each bid and make a decision based on objective criteria.
- Award and contract completion - the successful bidder will be informed and the contract fine-tuned.
Don't be afraid to walk away at any stage before submitting your bid. If there are doubts whether the contract is financially viable or that the provider can fulfil the contract, it is better to cut your losses rather than compromise the health of your existing practice.
- Katharine Mellor is corporate partner and head of healthcare at solicitors DWF LLP, www.dwf.co.uk