Procurement Advisory Services to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Pathology Consortium


The Challenge

The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Pathology Consortium was formed from three healthcare Trusts to provide a consolidated set of Pathology Services across the region in order to realise 20%+ of cashable savings from pathology services operating costs. This would be achieved through the centralisation of laboratory services resulting in significant operational cost savings and performance improvements.

The Consortium recognised that delivering these reforms would be critically reliant on IT and that they would need:

  • comprehensive laboratory IT provision across all the Consortium’s member acute hospital Trusts; and
  • the laboratory IT to fully integrate with the various IT in use more widely in the NHS organisations served by each of the Trusts.

In order to achieve these outcomes, the Consortium sought ASE’s support in building the strategic investment case for an integrated Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) across the Consortium’s member Trusts. Following this, ASE provided Procurement and Commercial expertise in developing and delivering the procurement project.

Our Approach

The first part was to build an Investment Case through effective market engagement. We were asked to find the answers to a number of key questions:

  • were there proven solutions that could meet the Consortium’s requirements?
  • could such solutions be procured and deployed to the project’s challenging timescales?
  • were the costs justified by the anticipated benefits?
  • would suppliers be able to price offerings in a way that would be affordable, specifically in aligning with the release of cashable savings?

ASE worked with key Consortium stakeholders to design and implement a Market Sounding process that:

  • gathered from suppliers the breadth and depth of evidence and supporting data needed to support CEO-level decision making across the Trusts;
  • engaged the full breadth of the viable supplier base but without wasting the time of suppliers who could not meet the Consortium’s needs;
  • incorporated both the internal and supplier-facing mechanisms needed to gain open and frank input, without bringing risk to a resultant procurement process;
  • was based on open and equitable criteria for supplier engagement; and
  • left the Consortium in a much stronger position to move quickly to procurement, contingent on CEOs deciding to proceed.

Our approach was to support and advise the client, including making use of our Procurement Toolset and extensive expertise in this area. A critical part of the engagement was to ensure that the Consortium retained effective decision-making and leadership. For example, whilst we provided the structure and supporting processes for both supplier plenary and one-to-one sessions, all sessions were led by key Consortium stakeholders.

By exploiting our structured Market Sounding methodology, we were able to put forward a Capped Price proposition, whereby the maximum cost to the Consortium was fixed at outset but any savings would accrue directly, e.g. where a greater proportion of the exercise were carried out in-house.

The second part was to provide Procurement and Commercial Support to the Procurement Project. We were tasked with the following high-level requirements:

  • Prepare the procurement products and deliverables to launch an OJEU Publication using the Restricted procedure;
  • Support and oversee the evaluation of the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (“PQQ”);
  • Development of the Invitation to Tender (“ITT”) documentation, including design and development of the Evaluation Model and methodology;
  • Development of, and advice to the Consortium on the proposed Contract;
  • Separate responsibility for the Commercial elements of the Contract, including their subsequent evaluation within the submitted bids;
  • Design, development and delivery of an “Industry Day” for suppliers who qualified into the ITT phase of the competition;
  • Ongoing Procurement advice through all phases of the procurement project; and
  • Oversight and moderation of the evaluation phase of the procurement project, including the preparation of evaluators and the evaluation environment.

The Results

In terms of supporting the Consortium to build an Investment Case, within 12 weeks of beginning the assignment, the final report was delivered to and agreed by the Consortium. This report confirmed:

  • that there were multiple viable solutions;
  • that these solutions were offered by suppliers active in the market place;
  • that these suppliers were willing and able to bid through a viable procurement route and were willing to structure charges in a way that addressed Consortium affordability;
  • that delivery timescales achieved for other clients deploying such solutions were within the Consortium’s challenging timescales; and
  • that the costs were justifiable within the Consortium’s overall investment case.

Based on background research, the success of the process was illustrated by the fact that it gained full and detailed input from all suppliers currently active in the LIMS market place in the UK.

For the Procurement and Commercial Support to the Procurement Project, the project was run under the Restricted procedure and the following phases were successfully completed, including the various deliverables and requirements set out in Our Approach, above:

  • Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and Selection;
  • Supplier Industry Day;
  • Visits to exemplar Operational Sites; and
  • Invitation to Tender publication, including:
    • The Business, Commercial and Technical Requirements;
    • The Contract;
    • The Evaluation model and method;
    • Award Criteria and
    • Receipt of Tenders.

Following a periodic review by one of the Consortium members, the overall Consortium business case was not seen to offer the level of savings first envisaged. Therefore, they withdrew from the Consortium and the programme ceased. Clearly, this impacted on the procurement project which also stopped along with our involvement in it.

The completed phases of the procurement project set out above demonstrated that the project was still viable in terms solutions available, that suppliers were willing to bid through a viable procurement route and that suppliers were willing to structure their charges in a way that addresses Consortium affordability.

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