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What's Next?

Last week's election result came as something of a shock for most pollsters. For most people working in the NHS, as in all public services, a period of uncertainty was anticipated while a new government was formed - a process which looked like it would take some time. Instead, the Conservatives have a clear mandate to implement their manifesto, including commitments to the NHS.

The commercial framework that the NHS operates within is therefore unlikely to change significantly. Pieces of work will continue to be tendered for through the European tendering process, and there will be no assumption that NHS organisations have a 'most favoured bidder' status.

To this point, NHS organisations have not won as many contracts a might be expected. After all, the NHS has many structural advantages over private firms - incumbency, the ability to drawn on other parts of the service, staff loyalty and a pre-existing relationship with commissioners.

In another sense, it is not surprising. Private sector firms are sales organisations, with the best spending money on commercial teams, marketing teams, bid writing teams and more. The NHS doesn't and shouldn't spend large sums on these things. That being so, there is a gap between having great services, but not being great at selling them.

There are different solutions to that problem. Sales (or the euphemistic 'business development') teams can be created, and bid management put in place. With a typical Community Trust bidding for 12-15 tenders a year, however, this is a large commitment. And, frankly, these teams are hard to create and manage, especially when the primary focus of the organisation is improving patient care, not recruiting and running commercial teams.

An alternative is to source external support. Obviously we think that this is an excellent route to go down! However, beware - make sure you know that the company you are partnering with truly knows the NHS. You don't want to spending your whole time explaining the difference between an ECG and a CCG.



Election Fever

The HealthBid team have a strong interest in the forthcoming election. We have placed a £5 bet on a number of potential outcomes. But more importantly is the bragging rights post election - we all believe we have got it spot on.

As I am sure nobody needs to be reminded it’s very tight right now and almost impossible to call. And we might be bid experts; but we’re not psephologists - I mention this only because I have noticed that the NHS has been central to many of the more interesting debates.

While following some of this this last week I notice that there was quite a few interesting stats flying about around privatisation and outsourcing. I have seen all sorts of different numbers mentioned around how many bids the private sector have won compared to the public as percentage anywhere from 40-60%. But no matter who you chose to believe one thing is very clear – NHS organisations seem to find it difficult to produce high quality bids on a regular basis.

What is the reason for this? Having ponder this I have two simple answers – one NHS organisations tend not to be bid–ready; they have less experience at creating clear sales vision and building strong bid libraries. Everybody finds it difficult to build a bid from the ground up and create a winning proposition first time round. Two they have competitors with bid teams and experience.

I’ll give you an example – I was running a large healthcare organisation when I decided to expand the portfolio of services we offered – this meant ‘new’ bidding. We pulled together the best of the current bid team and then some sector experts and started to create bids. We got lucky and won bid number three – but certainly never expected to win bid number one. And this was with a team of hardened bid professionals. We needed more time and better preparation.

This is probably how it feels for NHS organisations as they prepare a bid for the first time in sector they’ve never bid for previously. Only strong professional bid support can help. One of the driving forces behind HealthBid was to provide some specialist sector knowledge to NHS organisations. We learnt the hard way and I suspect it is something very similar for lots of NHS organisations.

So it's tough hitting bids cold – but it doesn’t help if your competitor is writing their 10th or 20th bid in this space and has a crack team of bid and sales professionals either. Very big independent providers will have bid teams, will have sales teams and will be bidding countrywide. They will understand what a good bid looks like because they will have learnt by experience. Once again this is something HealthBid brings. We understand how to create a passionate, winning bid using the same kind of skills and expertise employed by your competitors.

In essence what this election debate reminded me was that the NHS needs help to win work and grow. This isn't just about controversial strategic bids its also about the smaller, regular bids that are starting to become a fixture in the healthcare landscape. I don’t think they’ll go away regardless of the election result and that's why we would like to talk to organisation who know deep down they are simply not bid ready.

To find out how we can help, why not contact me or the team.

Photo - Amanda Wood



Why aren't there more tenders at the moment?

If you've been searching for NHS tenders over the last few days, you will have noticed how few there are. 


Well, it's the General Election, and the rules surrounding it. We've entered a phase called purdah, which started on 30th March.  

Diring this period, government bodies, including the NHS, refrain from announcing new policies or contracts. While not a legal thing, it's one of those generally accepted practices.  

So, it will be quiet on the tender front for a couple more weeks - great time to build your bid library, storyboard ideas and plan strategy for what will certainly be a busy May and June.