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Doing business with NHS Digital
Find out how we buy goods and services
We work closely with our suppliers to add real value to our corporate goals. We understand that progress in this complex, multi-stakeholder ecosystem depends on partnership and collaboration and we are constantly working to strengthen our alliances and build new ones.
NHS Digital Commercial
We have a team of procurement professionals who oversee all aspects of our procurement activity and provide a comprehensive commercial service. The team is responsible for the whole procurement life cycle from identification of business need and engaging the market through to supplier selection, contracts and relationship management, contract expiry/termination and starting to plan for the next contract lifecycle.
Our supply chain partners are fundamental to our on-going success, creating significant value through the delivery of new thinking and innovative solutions. Through the deployment of Strategic Supplier Relationship Management (SSRM) we are focused on creating an effective and collaborative relationship with our most important suppliers, creating additional value and innovation that goes beyond our contracts.
We do not operate ‘preferred supplier lists’. Where appropriate we utilise framework agreements and contracts awarded by other public sector organisations such as Crown Commercial Service and the NHS Business Services Authority.
How we procure
We buy goods and services by competition wherever possible, in line with UK government policy and the relevant legal requirements.
If a suitable framework agreement is available, then this will normally be the preferred route to market. The thresholds are:
- up to £5,000 - 1 written quote needed
- £5,000 to £25,000 - 3 written quotes needed
- £25,000 and above – formal tender process must be used and managed via the e-Tendering tool (Bravo)
- above threshold (goods or services in excess of £181,302 and works in excess of £4,551,413) – full competitive tender exercise advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and/or on the government's Contracts Finder, in accordance with EU directives
Our aim is always to ensure that suppliers are clear early on about our requirements and evaluation approach.
The tender document will set out the requirements and method of evaluation to be used. Suppliers should make sure that they understand this, and the scope of requirements laid out in our specification. We will respond to any requests for clarifcation.
Bravo - NHS Digital's strategic sourcing tool
We currently use the strategic sourcing tool called Bravo to manage our procurement exercises. All current and potential suppliers interested in doing business with us are encouraged to take time to register on this procurement portal.
Commonly used terms and conditions
Generally, we seek to conduct business using government assured terms and conditions. The terms and conditions applicable to a contract will vary depending on the requirements and the procurement approach. Where appropriate, a call off terms and conditions may be supplemented by NHS Digital specific additional terms. Supplier terms and conditions will only be accepted on an exceptional basis.
All terms and conditions are issued during the competitive process so that potential suppliers can review them before submitting a proposal.
Our ambition is to seek, collect, share, promote and implement sustainable best practice through our procurement activity. We will work with our suppliers to generate benefits to the organisation, to society and the economy, while minimising damage to the environment. In all our commercial activity of any value, we are committed to supporting these benefits and will do so by:
- building in appropriate social, economic and environmental factors into our tender requirements
- including valued weightings into tender evaluations where appropriate
- reducing the ‘single use’ items sourced
- working with our suppliers on improving disposal; reduction; reuse and visibility throughout the supply chain
- working with suppliers to comply with modern slavery legislation
Social value and the principles underlined within the law are included and accounted for in the development and drafting of the procurement documentation.
Contracted suppliers working with NHS Digital
We are committed to ensuring that all our contracts deliver the very best value for money throughout their contractual periods. We constantly review delivery and work to build strong relationships with suppliers that are focused on continuous improvement by all parties.
We have three different categories of supplier with different levels of management, and we regularly review how individual contracts are classified. The categories are:
- Gold: contracts that have a high supply risk and high cost impact (formally reviewed monthly)
- Silver: contracts that have a high cost impact and low supplier risk (formally reviewed quarterly)
- Bronze: contracts that have a low cost impact and low supply risk (formally reviewed annually)
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Transparency
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) provides a statutory general right of access to information held by public authorities, or by those providing services for public authorities. This means that we have certain obligations under the Act to provide information when requested, provided that the information is not exempt from disclosure under the provisions of EIR or FOI.
We are committed to meeting responsibilities while respecting commercial relationships with suppliers. Due consideration will be given to the potential impact on the commercial position of any of our suppliers when responding to a request for information which may concern them.
All information submitted to us may be subject to disclosure to a third party in response to a request for information under EIR and FOI.
How this may affect suppliers
We may receive requests for information specifically concerning our commercial relationship with our suppliers. We will consult with the supplier(s) concerned prior to responding to a request whenever reasonably practicable.
Suppliers tendering for NHS Digital work will be asked in the tender documentation to identify any information they consider to be exempt from disclosure due to confidentiality but, to note, it is solely for NHS Digital to make that determination.
Suppliers should note that if they provide us with any information marked ‘confidential’ or equivalent, this does not mean that we accept any duty of confidence by virtue of that marking.
We comply with applicable government procurement guidance in relation to procurements, including the pro-active publication of contracts, but subject to confidential information being redacted in accordance with FOI exemptions.