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Publication - Guidance

Procurement of care and support services: best practice guidance

Published: 23 Mar 2016
Part of:
Public sector

Guidance for the public sector on procuring care and support services.

86 page PDF


86 page PDF


Procurement of care and support services: best practice guidance
1. Introduction

86 page PDF


1. Introduction

1.1 Procuring care and support services is a complex area. It requires special consideration within a public body's overall approach to the procurement of goods and services. This is because the quality or availability of these services can have a significant impact on the quality of life and health of people who might use these services as well as their carers [1] . Also, services are becoming increasingly personalised to better meet people's needs which, in turn, has implications for how support is planned and purchased.

1.2 For these reasons, these types of services are often purchased differently to other services. That is, a public body has some flexibility to decide how to handle these contracts on a case-by-case basis. For example, it can decide how it applies the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union ( TFEU) fundamental principles ( i.e. transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination, proportionality and mutual recognition) that apply to public procurements. A public body should consider other key principles which respect, protect and promote human rights. It also has a duty of care in relation to people with social care and support needs.

1.3 This best-practice guidance updates and replaces the 2010 'Procurement of Care and Support Services' guidance ('the 2010 guidance'). It builds on and updates the 2010 guidance principally to reflect changes to the national procurement rules as a result of 2014 European Union ( EU) Procurement Directives [2] and national legislation [3] .

1.4 This guidance complements statutory guidance produced under the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 ('the Act') which includes guidance on the procurement for wider health or social care services. When procuring health or social care services (which includes care and support services) public bodies must have regard to that statutory guidance which covers the main legal rules applying to the procurement of those services.

1.5 A public body should also take account of this best-practice guidance specifically when procuring care and support services. It applies to any contract where the estimated value is equal to, or greater than, £50,000 for goods and services which are not otherwise exempt from regulation. It has been updated to outline all other critical considerations including wider principles that a public body should consider when procuring these important services.

1.6 This guidance has been produced together with, and has been endorsed by, a Reference Group involving key stakeholder interests. Those organisations represented on the Reference Group are similar to those that contributed to the development of the 2010 Guidance and are listed at Annex 2. The Reference Group's view is that the effective implementation of this guidance is essential to the continued delivery of improvements in the procurement for care and support services.

This guidance applies to all procurements which commence on or after 18 April 2016. It is best practice guidance and does not constitute legal advice. A public body should always seek its own legal advice where it is procuring a care and support service.

1.7 For the purposes of this best-practice guidance the term 'public body' describes the various organisations which procure care and support services. For example, this could include NHS boards, criminal justice organisations and housing organisations.

Integration Joint Boards [4] are not able to contract or hold contracts with third parties as contractual arrangements remain with either the local authority or NHS Board. They are responsible, however, for the production of Strategic Commissioning Plans thereby providing some direction and oversight of what should be procured.

1.8 For the purposes of this guidance, any references to wider health or social care services includes care and support.

Rationale for guidance: New procurement rules for health or social care services (including care and support services) and other changes

1.9 As from 18 April 2016 a key change to the public procurement rules is that the former distinction between Part A and Part B service contracts has been abolished and a new 'light-touch' regime has been introduced for certain services. This includes health and social care services and is the main reason for the update to this best-practice guidance.

1.10 Frontline services are also operating in a different adult health and social care environment from that under which the 2010 guidance was first introduced. This is another reason why an update to that guidance is appropriate now.

1.11 Overall, this guidance describes the changes to the procurement rules and reinforces a set of best-practice considerations (first set by the 2010 guidance) principally for the procurement of care and support services. Specifically, it provides some information on the changed policy and legal context and outlines some key considerations for a public body to take account of.