Publication - Advice and 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

4.3 MB

86 page PDF

4.3 MB

Procurement of care and support services: best practice guidance
11. Stage 4 of the Procurement Process - Review

86 page PDF

4.3 MB

11. Stage 4 of the Procurement Process - Review

11.1 This chapter highlights the importance of reviewing the ongoing procurement process. A public body should ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for:

  • managing the contract (or call-off contracts under a framework agreement);
  • managing the relationship between the public body and service providers;
  • reviewing the service; and
  • preparing for the end of the contract, including the possibility of early termination.

Depending on the value and complexity of the procurement, a post-project review may be undertaken to consider any lessons learned and take these into account in any future planning. Further information on post project reviews can be found in the Procurement Journey.

Such arrangements should, in-turn, inform the ongoing development of local commissioning strategies.

Managing the contract

11.2 The purpose of contract management is to:

  • ensure that the service is delivered as agreed to appropriate quality standards and is providing value for money;
  • allow a public body to manage any risks which may impact on a service provider's ability to deliver the service, or to deliver it to the required quality; and
  • ensure that the correct administrative procedures are followed, for example in the event of a change to the contract or to put into effect a price adjustment.

11.3 Every contract for care and support services should be managed by a nominated member of staff ('contract management officer'). In a collaborative setting, public bodies should determine which public body will take the lead in managing the contract. A public body should ensure that there is clarity about the distinction between:

  • contract management (the responsibility of the public body);
  • service management (the responsibility of the service provider); and
  • the role of the care manager (who has overall responsibility for ensuring that the totality of care and support for an individual is achieving the desired outcomes).

11.4 Service specifications (which form part of the contract) should incorporate key performance indicators and describe the mechanism for measuring performance. In order to evaluate performance, public bodies should consider all potential sources of information on the delivery and quality of the service, including:

  • views expressed by people who use services and also their carers in questionnaires, meetings and focus groups and through peer inspection (views of diverse groups of users should be heard, where possible, to ensure that the service is meeting diverse needs);
  • reports submitted by a service provider;
  • self-assessment by a service provider;
  • meetings with service providers;
  • planned and unannounced visits;
  • feedback from their frontline staff;
  • the records of those who use services;
  • review of compliments, complaints and serious incidents; and
  • information from the regulatory bodies, including inspection reports, complaints and enforcement.

11.5 A public body should ensure that the approach adopted to reporting is proportionate and seeks to minimise demands on service providers for information about the delivery of the service. The frequency and level of reporting should be informed by a risk assessment and may increase in certain circumstances, for example if a complaint is made about the service. The reporting arrangements might be built into the service specification and/or the terms and conditions of a contract.

11.6 A public body should avoid duplicating information which is collected by and is available from the regulatory bodies. This can be achieved through the development of Memoranda of Understanding and regular discussions between the public body and the regulatory bodies. In some areas, contract management officers routinely attend the Care Inspectorate's post-inspection feedback sessions with service providers.

11.7 Contract management officers should present information gained through contract management in regular reports to senior managers. In order to fulfil their role, they should:

  • prepare and issue reports summarising their actions, identifying any significant issues and detailing the conclusions that they have reached;
  • consider the consistency of their conclusions with those arising from the work of the regulatory bodies;
  • clearly identify the nature and grounds for any concerns and the action that is required to secure improvement;
  • consult service providers on the factual accuracy of all reports; and,
  • communicate regularly with service providers and ensure that emerging findings are discussed at an appropriate level within their organisations.

11.8 Contract management arrangements should identify what will happen in the event that the service is not being delivered as agreed, or, the agreed quality standards are not being met. For example, these should describe the process for agreeing the necessary improvements (where appropriate, in discussion with the Care Inspectorate) to the service and the timescales that will apply. The contract itself should specify the circumstances in which the public body has a right to terminate the contract (for example, insolvency, service failure, loss of registration).

Relationship between a public body and service providers

11.9 The success of the relationship between a public body and service providers depends on the extent to which there is:

  • mutual respect and trust;
  • a joint understanding of the roles played and challenges faced by each partner;
  • openness and excellent communications; and
  • a joint approach to managing delivery.

11.10 Managing the contractual relationship with service providers comprises a discrete set of responsibilities and activities and should be the responsibility of a nominated member of staff. A public body should consider how to ensure that:

  • roles and responsibilities are clear;
  • relationships are equal and reporting arrangements are fair and proportionate;
  • the relationship is championed at senior levels in the public body and provider organisations;
  • information sharing is encouraged;
  • its processes do not duplicate those of the Care Inspectorate;
  • concerns about the relationship, from either party, can be discussed frankly; and
  • the relationship allows for long-term strategic issues to be considered as well as issues relating to the day-to-day delivery of the service.

This might be built into the service specification and/or the terms and conditions of the contract.

Reviewing a service

11.11 The purpose of a service review is to identify any improvements that need to be made to the care and support received by people who use services and their carers and/or to the service as a whole. Individual services should be reviewed at regular intervals to determine if the service is:

  • meeting quality standards and delivering the right outcomes for people who use services and their carers;
  • responsive to current demand and potential future need;
  • in line with a public body's strategic objectives and those of its partners, as described in local commissioning strategies; and
  • continuing to provide value for money.

11.12 Service reviews for individual services should consider the quality of service delivery and any issues that the public body is aware of through managing the current contract. A public body should benchmark the quality and cost of the service against similar services and consider the extent to which different arrangements could achieve the desired outcomes. It should involve service providers and people who user services and their carers in identifying changes that would improve the way the service is delivered and the outcomes for people using the service.

11.13 A public body should work with the service provider to agree the actions required to implement the changes identified by the service review. These should be set out in an action plan which allocates responsibility for the agreed actions and the relevant timescales for their implementation.

11.14 A public body and the service provider should agree how information about the changes will be communicated to people who use services and their carers. If significant change is proposed, a public body should consider if it can be delivered under the current contractual arrangement. If 'material' changes are made to an existing contract, such as an extension beyond the advertised scope of the contract, the effect is to establish a new contract: (regulation 72 of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015). In this situation, a public body should determine if the service should continue to be procured from an external service provider and, if so (and subject to the value of the contract), whether or not the contract must be advertised and subject to competition.

11.15 A public body and a service provider should consider ways in which service improvement can be incentivised. Incentives can be provided through recognition of good outcomes for people who use services and their carers and positive reviews, both of which enhance a service provider's reputation.

Link to local commissioning strategies

11.16 Contract management and service reviews should, in turn, inform the ongoing development of strategic commissioning plans. Both should encapsulate the views of a public body, service providers and people who use services and their carers about existing arrangements for delivering the service and changes that could be made to improve outcomes for them.