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2018 Procurement Thresholds Confirmed

All government procurement over a certain value in the UK must follow EU regulations around transparency and fairness. 

The NHS is no different, and so healthcare contracts are subject to EU procurement law. The threshold values for procurements are updated regularly to keep them in line with inflation or any other legislative change.

The 2018 values have been confirmed as follows:-

Supply, Services and Design Contracts - £118,133

Works Contracts - £4,551,413

Social and other specific services - £615,278

These values are for the whole contract lifetime, and exclude VAT.

The deifinition of a social service is complex, and is based around CPV codes. A list of these can be found here

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Why Outsource Your Bid?

With Christmas just around the corner and your leave calendar starting to look much busier, we couldn’t think of a better time to talk about the benefits of outsourcing.

There are several reasons why using HealthBid will benefit you, both during the festive season and beyond. Our top three are;

  • Dedicated Capacity
  • Professional Project Management   
  • Expert Writing  

Capacity

Managing and writing a high-quality bid requires substantial time and resource investment. Our clients often come to us because of the increasing tension they have managing their bid processes alongside their day jobs. HealthBid can take the pressure off.

We essentially become your own in-house bid team, giving your tender the undivided attention it needs to succeed. Even as ‘outsiders’ we create bespoke and tailored bids which genuinely reflect who you are and what you can do. Indeed, we are proud of our ability to truly immerse ourselves in our clients’ organisations, even within significantly tight deadlines, meaning we always write from an informed and genuine perspective.

Let us help you to take back control of your time and resources – bidding doesn’t have to be a drain on your time and staff.

Project Management

Using HealthBid to manage and write your bids ensures your tender gets dedicated project management, using the proven Shipley Associates methodology – including capture planning to pink and red review teams.  

Our Bid Managers will get you through the tender process efficiently, seamlessly and successfully. Through exceptional organisation, project planning and coordination, they ensure everything stays on track – allowing you to stay calm and confident even during that final deadline week!

Expert Writing

We are professional writers, consistently producing exceptional content. Recent feedback from our clients is a real testament to this:

“We are extremely happy with our submission and the way the bid management process has been managed by yourselves.  The amount of information you have taken on board and captured within our submission, alongside how it is presented is impressive.” (Lifestyle Services client)

We are skilled at weaving our clients unique win themes into a vibrant and interesting story for commissioners, bringing their innovative services alive. We know how to do this in an appropriate, engaging style, ensuring responses incorporate both compliance requirements and the sales-based tone necessary in every successful tender.

“Thank you all so much for the swift, succinct and great work.  It has been a pleasure and I hope to work with you on projects to come.” (GP Federation Client)

The quality of our written work is also reinforced by our extensive experience. Having worked across numerous health and social care sectors, writing for a variety of Contracting Authorities, we know what Commissioners are looking for. Our unrivalled level of sector knowledge and experience, spanning the entire Bid Engine, is an asset in every bid we write.

We can support you through the whole process of winning work, from identifying unique win themes to project managing and writing your tender. Find out more by speaking to our Business Development Manager Laura Moore on 07341 338200.

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Festive Aromas: Cinnamon and its Importance to Health

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Festive Aromas: Cinnamon and its Importance to Health

Christmas is just around the corner and festive Spotify playlists are in full swing throughout the UK’s offices and shops. Besides the sounds of Christmas, however, many shops are also choosing to scent the air of their aisles with Christmas aromas to encourage shopper spending. In this blog post, HealthBid will consider the significance of a typical festive aroma; cinnamon, to health. In the light of Pret a Manger’s introduction of the Turmeric Latté, it seems spices really are big business in the UK.

What is Cinnamon?

Whilst many of us are familiar with this spice in the Western World, its origin can actually be traced back to the inner bark of a large tree thousands of miles away. The Portugese first discovered the spice in Ceylon – now Sri Lanka – in the early 1500s.  There are two dominant types of the spice: Ceylon and Cassia Cinnamon, with the majority of the former found in Sri Lanka and most of the latter found in Indonesia. The health benefits associated with the spice come from the essential oil present in its bark - known as ‘cinnamaldehyde’.

Neuromarketing

The smell of cinnamon is incredibly evocative - indeed, neuroscientists have proven through the use of fMRI scanners that the scent, above all others, causes individuals’ brains to light up and encourage festive sentiments. In fact, it is a proven seasonal marketing technique for this exact reason. 

Health Benefits

Cinnamon is an ingredient within Pret’s popular Turmeric Latté, with nutritionists claiming that it is linked to both reduced blood pressure and effective management of blood sugar for those with Type 2 Diabetes.  In addition, the spice’s carminative effect helps relieve gastrointestinal problems, with fans opting to make tea with ground cinnamon and hot water to help combat such digestive symptoms. The essential oil also has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Despite this, it is important to recognise that too much cinnamon can also have an adverse effect on health. In fact, cassia cinnamon contains coumarin – an organic chemical compound which in large quantities can negatively impact on your liver. Ceylon cinnamon is therefore a safer bet, though less commonly found in typical supermarkets.

Supplementing your Diet with Cinnamon

With the RDA for cinnamon around 1.5-6 grams of cinnamon per day, there are many options by which you can incorporate the spice in your diet – including via coffee, curries and puddings. Alternatively, simply swirl a sprinkle of cinnamon, one sprinkle of mixed spice and one sprinkle of nutmeg into a mug of warm milk for a soothing, caffeine-free drink.

Sources:

M. Lindstrom -Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy'

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-cinnamon

https://www.thekitchn.com/should-you-be-adding-cinnamon-to-your-coffee-231050

Image Credit:

www.kjokkenutstyr.net

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Darren O'Meara - Interview

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Darren O'Meara - Interview

At HealthBid, we continue to deliver winning healthcare bids for our customers. Recently we’ve celebrated successes in the Department of Health Future Operating Model and 0-5 Children Services. Senior Bid Manager Darren O’Meara was instrumental in the delivery of some these key successes. We catch up with Darren for his insights in transforming that blank ITT into a successful tender. Read on for some top tips on how HealthBid’s proven bid management methodology offers an excellent pathway to producing high-quality content.

Congratulations on your latest wins Darren! To begin with, we wanted to ask you what your immediate approach is when assigned a project? 

Thank you, it’s been great to see our hard work resulting in some great successes for our customers.

Starting a new project, once we have identified stakeholders to be involved, a clear communication plan is agreed. The project plan can then be developed to facilitate the inclusion of all stakeholders at critical milestones. The project plan outlines both internal and external timescales and overall shapes both writing time and review around such key dates. In my experience, fundamental to effective project planning and ultimately, a winning bid, is taking the time to assess the opportunity to understand the key requirements and timelines of the bid. Equipped with this understanding we can then assist our customer in realising and developing their win themes to be articulated throughout the bid.  

At HealthBid, the Bid Engine provides a unique approach to bidding, offering a wealth of knowledge and expertise which is engaged for the benefit of each bid. Part of my planning involves engaging the Bid Engine to ensure each staff member assigned to the project is briefed and clear on their role in the bid process. Our model’s strength was demonstrated working with the NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership to achieve an unprecedented success - top scoring in all 6 Towers and securing the maximum 3 Towers within the Tranche 1 Procurement for the Department of Health Future Operating Model.

On the subject of communication, HealthBid works with many different healthcare companies across the UK and client liaison is key to efficient project management. How do you approach such liaison and keep clients updated on the bid management process?

The key to effective communication is early preparation, and here at HealthBid we often start the process of capture planning with customers before project documents have been issued. One of my first tasks, beginning a project is to identify who is the key point of contact for each client and key stakeholder. Identifying that key point of contact allows for regular targeted communication, a key element of efficient project management.

Each client brings their own unique experience and approach to the bid process - I see one of my main responsibilities as remaining flexible and quickly adapting my project management style to suit. In some cases, a project may concern multiple stakeholders, therefore I must remain adaptable to each stakeholder’s wishes, whilst also ensuring that decisions are made which every partner is ultimately happy with.

To take one example, in our successful work with NHS CPP, we worked with multiple stakeholders from each of the 4 founding NHS CPP Procurement Hubs including North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative, the London Procurement Partnership, Commercial Solutions and the East of England Collaborative Procurement Hub. The challenge with such a complex and diverse set of stakeholders was to secure the mutual agreement of each organisation to make sure each stakeholder was adequately engaged in contributing to the final bid response.

To assure successful liaison, we use a variety of methods of communication and do not simply rely on one medium. Effectively we strike a balance between telephone, email and face-to-face meetings. Whilst face-to-face meetings are a must for key milestones in the bid process such as Solution Design, Pink Teams and Red Reviews, regular communication is critical to engaging all stakeholders and often facilitated by conference calls at weekly intervals to ensure that all parties are informed and updated. 

As a Bid Manager, you often have several people working for you at once -  you’ve previously mentioned HealthBid’s Bid Engine. How do you assign workload and work with these staff members?

I will often assign content to team member based on their knowledge or experience of a certain topic, however it is important to build on a writer’s existing skillset, as a fresh perspective can equally provide unique and engaging responses.

Managing a project team involves consistent review to ensure progress in line with the project plan. Proactive planning, complemented by regular internal review optimises the quality of the bid response.  

As an experienced bid professional, you have worked on a variety of OJEU procurement processes for clients. Longer open processes, such as Competitive Dialogues, can often last several months. Do you have a particular methodology to deal with these processes as opposed to closed processes, consisting of an SQ and ITT?

Fundamental throughout every procurement – be it a closed or an open process - is that the client solution is presented and articulated in a manner which maximises the opportunity available. Drawing on our established and proven bidding methodology, including capture planning and use of review meetings, throughout each and every stage of the process is essential to ensure the customer is prepared for each stage.

For example, we recently successfully project managed the bid process for a 0-5s Service for a well-respected NHS Trust which included 2 competitive dialogue sessions prior to ITT. Through regular design/review meetings we were able to identify win themes which were consistently and clearly articulated to the Commissioner and developed and enhanced throughout the various procurement stages.

Such longer projects are more prone to change according to Commissioners’ wishes. How do you react to such alterations as changing timelines?

As a business, reacting to the changing face of healthcare is one of the key strengths of HealthBid. The agile nature of our Bid Engine provides the flexibility and experience to react to changing commissioners wishes. Our approach goes beyond consultancy; to actively provide a comprehensive and winning bid response which has been shaped by our customer and driven by HealthBid. Such a nature relies on the dynamism of our staff, and the flexible nature of our bid methodology.

Finally, given your recent successes, what do such results mean to you?

We work so closely with our clients; the challenges we face together throughout the bid process, combined with the trusted relationships we build, ensure that the outcome of the bid is personal to us. We anticipate results as much as our clients and there is no better feeling than celebrating our successes.

If you’d like to hear more about our bid management process, don’t hesitate in calling Laura Moore on 07341338200, or sending us your details.

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Emma in the Hot Seat

November saw us welcome a new member to the HealthBid team as Emma joined us. A History graduate, Emma lives in West Yorkshire and enjoys live music festivals, visiting the Yorkshire seaside and travelling across Eastern Europe. As ever, we've interviewed her on a wide variety of significant subjects....

Hi Emma! To start the questions off, what is your full name?

Emma Louise McCormack.

What causes are you passionate about?

Mental health and 0-19s services.

Sum up your day so far in three words.

Coffee, writing, activities.

If you could be anybody for a day, who would you be and why?

Louis Theroux, because he’s got a really interesting job, and he knows so much about everything. I admire the way he manages to get information out of people.

What’s your favourite LT documentary?

Scientology

What was the last thing you Googled?

The meaning of MECC.

The failsafe question: what is your favourite cheese?

Wensleydale with cranberry - it’s very festive as well and it’s great on crackers!

As a Yorkshire native, name your favourite place to visit in the county.

So many places! I like to go to Malham Cove in Skipton for a nice walk, and I quite like Leeds City Centre. Oh, and Whitby too,

Do you speak any languages?

No.

The Pub Quiz question: what is currently the UK’s No. 1 Single?

Havana!

Woo hoo! People don’t normally get the PQ question! Next question: if you were an animal what would you be?

Maybe something water-based… I think an elephant because they love water. They’re very protective and seem very loyal, but they like rolling around in mud.

Good reasoning! And finally… name an interesting fact about yourself

I spotted the launch of the Tory manifesto in Halifax earlier this year - including the local protests - as that’s where I worked.

Favourite memory of Leeds?

How festive Millennium Square looks at Christmas time! So Millennium Square in Leeds.

Where was the last place you went abroad?

I went to Berlin in February to see the band The XX, and saw lots of incredible historical sights. I also visited Southern Spain in the summer. Berlin was freezing, but Spain was 30 degrees plus -so a little warmer! 

 

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Big Win for HealthBid Client

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Big Win for HealthBid Client

HealthBid & NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership (NHSCPP): Winning the Supply Chain Future Operating Model (Tranche 1) Category Towers Procurement

HealthBid are incredibly proud to share our involvement in the NHS Collaborative Partnership’s (NHSCPP) recent success in the Future Operating Model (FOM) Tranche 1 Medical / Clinical Goods Category Towers procurement.

NHSCPP is a Limited Liability Partnership borne out of collaboration between the East of England NHS Collaborative Hub (EOECPH), London Procurement Partnership (LPP), NHS Commercial Solutions (NHSCS) and the North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOECPC).

Keith Rowley, Managing Director of the NHS NOECPC said, "I have no doubt that the support of HealthBid helped us to maximise our competitive advantage during this bid process and as such, I would undoubtedly recommend their services to other NHS organisations."

A Category Tower combines the procurement of goods to the NHS with an evaluation and product range management process.  These Category Towers will replace the current procurement provision in the NHS Supply Chain contract before its contractual end date.  The aim of this approach is to generate greater levels of savings and benefits for the NHS on its product spend.

Following a competitive OJEU compliant tender process facilitated by NOECPC, HealthBid were selected as NHSCPP’s bid support partner the FOM Tranche 1 Category Towers procurement delivered via the Department of Health (DH) Procurement Team, part of the Procurement Transformation Programme.

This highly complex procurement conducted in accordance with the Restricted Procedure required HealthBid to provide dedicated on-site Bid Management and Bid Writing resource during a period of intensive bid activity lasting over 10 months. 

Conducted as two separate phases; ‘Selection’ and ‘Award’, the former required HealthBid to work with Procurement Directors and Senior Category Management Teams from each of the NHS Collaborative Procurement Hubs to complete Selection Questionnaires and associated bid documentation for six unique Lots.

Following successful down-selection for all six Lots, HealthBid were then required to generate the Award Questionnaire (ITT response documentation) for each of these six Lots.

The DH procurement rules specified that no bidder would be awarded more than a total of three Lots.  Our support resulted in NHSCPP scoring winning marks in the Quality sections for all six Lots and following application of the Lot Limitation rules by DH, NHSCPP were named as preferred bidder for the maximum award of three Lots:

Tower 2 – Sterile Intervention Equipment and Associated Consumables;

Tower 4 – Orthopaedics, Trauma and Spine and Ophthalmology;

Tower 5 – Rehabilitation, Disabled Services, Women’s Health and Associated Consumables.

Our Role

This was one of the most intensive and complex procurements conducted by DH in recent years and therefore fully tested the capabilities of all bidders.  Fortunately, when it comes to healthcare procurements of this scale, the deep healthcare sector subject matter expertise and unique Bid Engine approach used by HealthBid is unmatched by any other in-house Bid Department or external Bid Management consultancy, which ensured that our client was able to maximise their competitive advantage throughout the procurement process and secure Contract Award.

In overview, our role in this critical bid campaign was to provide the necessary leadership, management and content production expertise to generate the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT).  This was achieved through the following components.

Implementing & Managing the Process – Based on the HealthBid ‘Roadmap to Winning Bids’ methodology, the HealthBid Team managed the full bid process on behalf of NHSCPP for all six Category Towers.  Key activities included:

  • Facilitation of the solution design process;
  • Capture planning analysis to generate the overarching Win Strategy and support Win Themes for the specified Evaluation Factors;
  • Bid Campaign ‘Kick-off’ and documentation review;
  • Storyboarding and generation of bid content;
  • Support to pricing development;
  • Review of proposal documentation and pricing;
  • Portal management included management of clarification questions, upload of bid submission, and assurance of all compliance aspects;
  • Post-award support as required;

To support these activities we developed a comprehensive and detailed bid campaign plan that was kept updated throughout the process and included twice-weekly meetings and regular communication touch points with key stakeholders.

Expertise – Our success in the FOM procurement is a real testament to the uniquely effective Bid Engine approach developed and utilised by HealthBid.  Leveraging his industry-leading bid winning experience and proven healthcare business growth capabilities, the project was led by our Bid Director, David Haslewood.  Working closely with one of our highly experienced Senior Bid Managers, Darren O’Meara, the HealthBid Team also included the support of our team of skilled Bid Writers; Rebecca Benson, Georgina Hargrove and Georgia Threadgold.

The quality of our work is always in part due to the fact that we never place projects solely with one person.  Instead we bring together fantastic project managers, strong strategic director input and talented writers on every project to ensure that always produce a proposal that delivers a genuinely vibrant and interesting story for commissioners, drawing on the teams varying skills, interests and unrivalled level of sector knowledge to secure that all important result. 

This Bid Engine approach is our biggest differentiator in the market and the reason why so many of our clients choose to engage our services time and time again.  In fact, 90% of our clients who go on to write a second bid will as us to write it for them.

Relationship Management – The NHSCPP bid management process was complex not least because it brought four established bodies together as one collaborative organisation.  Our success is therefore also the result of exceptional stakeholder management; facilitating cooperative and productive relationships across all parties to reach established agreement on solution, price, bid reviews and the finalised submission.

If you’d like to find out more about HealthBid and how we achieve incredible results for our clients like the NHSCPP, get in touch with our Business Development Manager, Laura Moore, on 07341 338200. 

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The Budget & The NHS: Key Things You Need to Know

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The Budget & The NHS: Key Things You Need to Know

What’s been promised?

Below are the main NHS related headline announcements following Philip Hammond’s Autumn budget, delivered last week. In a promise to “always back” the increasingly pressurised health service, the Chancellor has announced a pot of extra funding to supplement the formal funding review process.

  • Hammond has announced a £2.5bn funding injection for the NHS over the next two consecutive financial years – these are one-off payments added to the planned budgets in each year.
  • Of this £2.5bn, £1.6bn will be added to the 2018-19 budget, seeing the £124.5bn budget originally planned for the year rise to £126bn.
  • The remaining £900m is reserved for 2019-20.
  • The NHS will also receive £335m this year, to aid winter pressures.
  • The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reports, for the 2018-19 pot, £1bn of the extra funding is intended to stop the declining performance in elective care. Research by Monitor, sector regulator for health services in England, suggests the NHS could improve productivity in elective care by up to 20%. For example, by rating patients on risk and simplifying pathways for the low risk patients or implementing ‘day-of surgery admissions’.
  • Hammond’s extra £600m in 2018-19 is aimed at helping hospitals meet the A&E target ­– for patients to be admitted, treated, and transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours.
  • An additional sum has been promised to fund pay rises for nurses and other key staff on top of the announced £2.5bn, if agreements are made regarding Agenda for Change new contracts.

Reactions

There were mixed reactions across key personnel and commentators, with a common thread that whilst the increase would ease immediate pressures, the governments expectations are unrealistic in terms of what can actually be done in return. Social care and Mental Health, it was noted, remained worryingly in the background.

Richard Murray, Director of Policy for The Kings Fund  –  “The additional money for the NHS is a welcome shot in the arm as a service struggles to meet rising demand for services. But it is still significantly less than the £4 billion we estimate the NHS needs next year. Even with this additional funding, the NHS will struggle to meet key targets and provide the investment needed in services such as general practice and mental health.”

Murray noted his disappointment that extra funding was not found for social care which faces a significant funding gap by 2019/20.

NHS England Chairman, Sir Malcom Grant – "The extra money the Chancellor has found for the NHS is welcome and will go some way towards filling the widely accepted funding gap. However, we can no longer avoid the difficult debate about what it is possible to deliver for patients with the money available. The NHS England board will need to lead this discussion when we meet on November 30."

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director for NHS England – “Personal view...Budget plugs some, but def not all, of NHS funding gap. Will force a debate about what the public can and can’t expect from the NHS. Worrying that longer waits seem likely/unavoidable.”

One of the strongest reactions came from Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Director for Mental Health, who tweeted – “Both as national director for MH and as a trust CE, I am deeply concerned at where this leaves us. We cannot jeopardise 5yrfv MH deliverables and my Trust (and colleagues') cannot go on making 6% CIPs year on year...not to mention social care! Some very very tough choices ahead.”

The funding announced was largely seen as insufficient; being less than half of what experts had suggested was needed for next year alone. As the HSJ report, the next NHS England board meeting will provide a timely opportunity in which to fully understand the opportunities within the funding increase and what can realistically be delivered.

References

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42082602

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/22/philip-hammond-housing-nhs-autumn-budget

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/466895/Elective_care_main_document_final.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/improving-productivity-in-elective-care

https://www.hsj.co.uk/finance-and-efficiency/chancellors-funding-announcement-plugs-some-holes-in-nhs-budget/7021130.article

https://www.hsj.co.uk/finance-and-efficiency/which-of-the-children-do-we-shoot-first-the-budget-leaves-the-nhs-with-harsh-choices-/7021134.article

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/22/budgets-16bn-cash-boost-for-nhs-less-than-half-of-experts-advice

https://www.hsj.co.uk/finance-and-efficiency/the-budget-has-placed-the-nhs-and-government-on-a-collision-course/7021134.article

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/press/press-releases/kings-fund-responds-2017-autumn-budget?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=thekingsfund

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A Happy Customer!

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A Happy Customer!

The HealthBid Bid Engine is hard at work this week! The team are busy managing and writing a range of tenders at the moment, spanning health and wellbeing services to GP provider services.

Health and wellbeing tenders, especially lifestyle behavioural interventions, have become a big part of our more recent portfolio of experience here at HealthBid. The team have been writing fantastic content for clients bidding on services including;

·         Smoking Cessation

·         Weight Management

·         Alcohol Reduction

·         Physical Activity

·         Health Checks

In this we’ve been incorporating some really strong themes around community networks, engagement with deprived communities and tackling health inequalities.

We’ve recently written a great piece of work for a client within this sector, who have given us some feedback we are incredibly proud of!

I can’t thank you enough for all that you have produced for this tender. It was all so beautifully written and the diagrams are a fantastic addition which look really professional, I hope you were really proud of your work. If anything I feel guilty for submitting it as our own…It’s been great working with you.”

Our Bid Engine are so successful because we do things differently.

Your bid always gets team attention, never being placed solely with one person. Bringing together fantastic project managers, strong strategic director input and talented writers on every project means we always deliver incredibly high-quality work.

This is supported by our unrivalled level of sector experience. Everyone on the team has knowledge to add, meaning we always turn a tender document into a genuinely vibrant and interesting story for commissioners, bringing our clients innovative services alive.

We can support you through the whole process of winning work, from identifying unique win themes to project managing and writing your tender. Our clients consistently positive feedback is a real testament to our success. Find out more by speaking to our Business Development Manager Laura Moore on 07341 338200.

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Sales - The Forgotten Word in Bids

A bid has to do many things for the evaluator - educate them, inform them - but most importantly it has to sell to them. All bids are part of the sales process. Whilst this sounds obvious, we regularly review bids that have forgotten that the point of going through the process is to win work. Some organisations seem almost apologetic to sell, something that is especially true in the public sector.

Some of this is due to the way tender questions are structured. Questions asking for a factual response don’t immediately offer an opportunity to sell to the commissioner. “Is your organisation certified to ISO9001 (or equivalent) standard?” doesn’t, at first glance, offer much to pitch against.

Formatting can hinder the sales pitch too - writing answers into a text box on a portal don’t give the same possibilities as ones in a Word document.

Despite these frustrations, it’s important to remember that as the bidding organisation, the onus is with you to sell, not to wait for the commissioners to ask. That’s why we make every answer to every question a sales pitch. No-one wants a brazen sales pitch that ignores the question, but there is a middle ground to be found between that and a dry, boring response, in order to sell our client’s organisation effectively.

There’s an art to this. At HealthBid, we spend time with our clients developing win themes, and then incorporating at least one of these into every single answer, no matter how factual. A win theme is something that tells the commissioner why they should award the contract to a particular client, and where possible should be unique to that bidder. A question about ISO9001 compliance? Our answer will tell the commissioner that our client has ISO9001, but also why they care - because quality matters to them.

We often run these win theme sessions separately to the bid process, so that we can allow clients the space to really think through what makes their business different without getting bogged down in the specifics of a question. We find that with the right challenge organisations who don’t think of themselves as ‘doing’ sales - an NHS Trust for example - actually can sell, and indeed have some brilliant, unique win themes. This information can then be taken forward into the Pink Team storyboarding session, and incorporated into the bid.

To find out more about how we can support your team to identify win themes, and use these to improve bids, get in touch with Laura Moore on 07341 338200, or email via our contact page.

Photo:- 

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Laura in the Hot Seat

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Laura in the Hot Seat

Laura joined HealthBid as Business Development Manager in May 2017. She is from West Yorkshire and loves travelling through Italy - most recently returning from a holiday in the Italian Lakes. 

What is your full name?

Laura Anne Moore

What causes are you passionate about?

Gender equality

Sum up your day so far in three words.

Bell-ringing, cold-calling, meetings

Busy! If you could be anybody for a day, who would you be and why?

Charlize Theron - because she is hugely successful and seems very driven.

What was the last thing you Googled?

Holidays in Lake Garda

Name your favourite type of…. Curry?

Chicken Korma

On the subject of food, how do you feel about cheese?

I love cheese

Any particular favourites?

Applewood Smoked Cheddar as it reminds me of Christmas!

Very festive! Have you ever lived abroad? Do you speak any languages?

No.

Where’s the furthest you have ever travelled to?

I went to Thailand this year - I flew into Bangkok and stayed in the province of Krabi, in the Southern area of the country. I loved the Tuk Tuks!

Sounds amazing! And now for The Pub Quiz question: which Welsh singer performed a fitting song during the solar eclipse of 21st August?

Bonnie Tyler.

Good answer! If you were an animal what would you be?

A cat.

Can I ask why?

I'm a fan of cats because they’re independent, they're fed and they spend most of their time sleeping.

Excellent reasoning! And finally… name an interesting fact about yourself

I enjoy driving supercars in my free time - Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini to name but a few. I’m part of a car club so get to drive some incredible cars.

Impressive! Thanks Laura!

IMG_1277.JPG

Image of Krabi, Thailand: https://goo.gl/9vbLfs

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HealthBid Delivers for Patient Transport Company

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HealthBid Delivers for Patient Transport Company

We love winning work for our clients here at HealthBid - and we’ve been having lots of success recently! 

One of our largest clients works in Non-Emergency Patient Transport (PTS). This vital work helps to keep the NHS running smoothly, by helping people get to their appointments at the hospital on time. We have built a fantastic relationship over multiple bids with this client, giving us the opportunity to build and refine strong commercial win themes, as well as the compliance basics that go with this type of work.

Even though we have written nearly a dozen bids for them, we always stick to our process because we know that every bid is still just as important as the first. Our brilliant team has worked hard to develop high scoring PTS answers, but we review these for each bid, and ensure that they are still relevant, and importantly that they suit the needs of the particular commissioners.

We have won tens of millions of pounds of work for our customer, proving the strength of our model, and the benefit of building the sort of long term relationship that gives the best results. Our contract shares the risk with our client, meaning that commercially it has been a good relationship on both sides.

To find out more about how we could be working for your business, delivering results that go straight to your bottom line, then get in touch with Laura on laura.moore@healthbid.co.uk or 07341 338200.

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Emily in the Hot Seat

Emily joined HealthBid as a Bid Writer in July 2017. She is a Yorkshire local, and will shortly be graduating from the University of Warwick with a Masters in Gender and International Development. She is interested in local politics and enjoys travelling - she most recently travelled to Dublin at the end of May.

What is your full name?

Emily Charlotte Quinn

What causes are you passionate about?

Poverty and gender inequality

Sum up your day so far in three words.

Bacon, typing, rounders.

If you could be anybody for a day, who would you be and why?

My ultimate life dream is to be the speaker of the House of Commons, so I would like to be John Bercow.

Interesting! What was the last thing you Googled?

‘What is a synonym for cohesion?’

As I know you're a fan of sushi, can you name your favourite type?

I’m going to say California rolls, and I like anything with duck and salmon. 

That sounds fab! On the subject of food, how do you feel about cheese?

I desperately love cheese

Any particular favourites?

I really like mozzarella, but I’m also a fan of camembert and brie.

Good choices! Have you ever lived abroad? Do you speak any languages?

No, I have not and I do not speak any languages.

What is your favourite UK city…?

York - I love York because it is close to home without being too close, and it’s quaint and gorgeous and just really friendly.

Go York! And now The Pub Quiz question: name the newest single from Enrique Iglesias...

No, but I’m really frustrated because everyone in the office is talking about it…

(It's 'Subeme la Radio' for anyone who's wondering!)

If you were an animal what would you be?

A giraffe.

Can I ask why?

They’re really chilled, and they eat a lot and they’re really majestic and beautiful.

I agree! And finally… name an interesting fact about yourself

I got bitten by a monkey once and had to get rabies shots in three different countries.

Ouch!

Thanks Emily!

 

 

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The Social Value Act and Public Procurement - How to Get Involved

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The Social Value Act and Public Procurement - How to Get Involved

By Georgia Threadgold and Georgie Hargrove

Social Value and the Bidding Process

Social value has become a watch phrase of bids in recent years since the enshrinement of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. As the Social Enterprise UK article (source below) states, the legislation requires ‘public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts; and for connected purposes’. From HealthBid’s experience across a surfeit of tenders, justification of organisation’s social value is a factor which authorities must consider. This is regardless of the scale of their operations, and can range from a bidder's observation of their environmental impact, to their offering of employment opportunities.

What is Social Value?

Chris White, the MP behind the Act, explains social value as:

“We mean ‘value’ not in its narrow [financial] sense but in its true sense – recognising the importance of social, environmental and economic well-being across our communities and in our lives”. 

Social value has come to mean a type of added value to the community, or that provides public benefit. It  form can vary from contract to contract.

Social Value’s Impact

According to an article published in May 2017, only 13% of commissioners are making use of the Social Value Act 2012, despite it becoming a legal requirement half a decade ago. Further to this, research has found that the weighting of answers for social value, across all CCGs is low. A simple askance scored ‘pass/fail’ or with a weighting of 2% of the total evaluation was common.

Overall, with budgetary pressures dominating the headlines, it is evident that value for money ultimately directs the choice of Provider. However, supporters of the Act maintain that the legislation in fact has implications for the potential monetary value of procurement, though perhaps indirectly. The repercussions this has are demonstrated below.

Examples of Social Value

We have compiled some examples of social value in action, which may provide you with ideas for your future bids, and ratify the wider importance of social value.

Partnerships – working with other companies is a great way to achieve social value. For example, partnering with the Job Centre Plus to find new employees not only assists your recruitment process, but you’re offering something back to your local community.

Ethical supply chains – Sourcing your catering supplies from a local shop can help businesses, especially SMEs in your area. For instance, many NHS organisations source their food and drink from local businesses, and it does not have to be more expensive.

Reducing environmental impact – Often this is a question in itself if you are bidding for something like Patient Transport Services. However, reducing your company’s contribution to landfill sites, recycling more, using fewer paper towels, and turning off your electricity when not needed, all contribute to a more sustainable service, and ticks the social value boxes.

HealthBid has worked on several bids specifying the importance of social value, and thus our team possesses longstanding knowledge of the complexities of the evolving field of procurement across health and social care. Contact our MD, Tom Sheppard, at tom.sheppard@healthbid.co.uk for more information.

Sources:

https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/only-a-minority-of-nhs-commissioners-making-active-use-of-social-value-act

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/feb/05/social-value-act-public-services

Image Credit - 'Tree', by Zinnia Jones (Flickr)

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Framework Agreements: Getting SMEs involved in public procurement

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Framework Agreements: Getting SMEs involved in public procurement

The annual conbined turnover of UK Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) was over £1.8 trillion in 2016. Governments in recent years have committed more and more funding to them, since it is clear they are key to economic growth.

Following on from a previous blog (‘A Bidding Guide for Small Businesses’, 10/04/17), we want to discuss how else SMEs can get involved in public procurement. Framework agreements represent around 45% of procurements in the UK, and they are increasingly valuable for SMEs.

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Should you bid?

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Should you bid?

This week’s post explores the concept of ‘bid/no-bid’, or rather, how do you know whether you should bid or not? It can be exciting when a new opportunity arises which you instinctively believe your organisation is ideal for. However, as a good bid requires substantial time and resource investment, knowing when not to bid can at times be just as important.

At HealthBid we would encourage our clients to consider three core questions. Is your proposal deliverable? Is it profitable? Finally, is it winnable? Whilst these questions are naturally not an exhaustive list, as any bid/no-bid decision involves numerous operational and strategic decisions, they offer an ideal starting point:

1.    Deliverable - Here you are considering whether you can actually deliver on the contract. At a minimum you need to think about your resources, operational capacity and ability to deliver a patient-centric, compliant service.

2.    Profitable – You need to consider whether your organisation is going to make any money from the contract. Or, whether you might gain in other ways through building a strong bank of experience or furthering your reputation and brand. The latter may itself lead to future profitability.

3.    Winnable - Ultimately, you must always ask yourself ‘so what’? Qualifying on deliverability and profitability is largely irrelevant if you do not have the winning edge on your competitors. You will need to consider whether your unique selling points genuinely put you in the running and whether you would be able to develop strong win themes in the bid. If you are not bidding to win then you are gambling with your resources.

You may not always have a clear consensus across these categories and here you must dedicate some time to considering how/whether you can mitigate your ‘no’s’. For example, your proposal may not be significantly profitable but winning may deliver your organisation longer term reputational benefits. Or, your proposal may not currently stand up to market competitors but you may be able to invest time into refining your win themes and USPs before the bid campaign begins. Implicated in all these decisions is the moral dilemma of balancing the commercial profitability of your solution with always delivering the highest calibre service for patients on the front end.

At HealthBid we can help you make this decision; we know what a winning solution looks like. As we are external to your organisation, you can trust us to aid your bid/no-bid decision objectively. If you decide you are going to bid then investing in your bid campaign will truly maximise your competitive advantage. HealthBid operate under a unique Bid Engine model, combining years of in-depth knowledge, highly experienced project managers, talented writers and people genuinely passionate about the health and social care sector. We can help you transform your solution into a bespoke, personalised offer with a strong strategy and winning themes.

If you would like to find out more about what we do at HealthBid and how we can work with your organisation, please call our Business Development Laura Moore on 07341 338200.

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Dementia Awareness Week: What is dementia?

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Dementia Awareness Week: What is dementia?

This week, in recognition of Dementia Awareness Week, we’ll be using the HealthBid blog to understand more about Dementia.

To coincide with the launch of their bold new campaign and TV advert, ‘United Against Dementia’, the Alzheimer’s Society (2017) have released some staggering research findings on the state of our nations understanding about dementia. Notably, a third of us are under the misapprehension that there is a cure for dementia and only 22% of us realise that dementia leads to death.

Our misunderstanding of the disease is worrying given its scale and continued growth both nationally and globally. According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there was a 56% rise in the number of people diagnosed with dementia from 2010/11 to 2015/16 in the UK. Current figures estimate around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, more than 42, 000 of which are under 65 years of age (Alzheimer’s Society 2017).

Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO 2016) indicate that 47.5 million people worldwide are living with dementia and that every year we see an increase of roughly 7.7 million new cases. The total global number is projected to rise to 75.6 million in 2030, almost tripling by 2050 to 135.5 million (WHO 2016).

Today’s post will briefly explore what dementia is and the most common, differing forms in which it manifests. We hope this speaks to the inspiring message of the Alzheimer’s society; transforming a public attitude of misunderstanding, impassivity and negativity into understanding, engagement and hope.

What is dementia?

Contrary to common understanding, dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process but rather the result of diseases progressively damaging the brain. The symptoms vary widely dependent upon the area of the brain that has been affected, ranging from but not limited to; difficulty with memory, language, perception, orientation and planning to extreme mood changes, hallucinations and delusions.

The most common types of dementia are:

Alzheimer’s disease – where abnormal proteins both surround and internally attack brain cells, damaging chemical connections between the cells.

Vascular dementia – where brain cells become damaged or die due to a lack of oxygen supply to the brain which blocks or narrows blood vessels. This occurs primarily during either a major stroke or series of minor strokes.

Dementia with Lewy bodies – where brain cells are damaged or die due to the formation of abnormal structures, called Lewy bodies, within the cells.

Frontotemporal dementia – where clumps of abnormal protein build up in the front and side parts of the brain, damaging and killing the cells.

However, it is important to recognise that these different forms are not wholly distinct and can manifest simultaneously in one single case, presenting as ‘mixed dementia’ (Alzheimer’s Society 2017; NHS 2017). For example, it is common for someone to be living with both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Furthermore, whilst less frequent, there are many other rarer diseases than can cause dementia beyond those discussed here, especially in cases of early-onset dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society proves a rich and valuable source of information for anybody wanting to find out more.

References

Alzheimer’s Research UK - https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/diagnoses-in-the-uk//

Alzheimer’s Society - Blog - https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/campaigns/unite-against-dementia/

Alzheimer’s Society Factsheet -https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/download/downloads/id/3416/what_is_dementia.pdf

NHS UK - http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Alzheimers-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/frontotemporal-dementia/Pages/Introduction.aspx

World Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs362/en/

Photo Credit: https://366tf1kd7hf1ohusvy7vjplv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/dementia-5-things-1200x805.jpg

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Tom in the Hot Seat

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Tom in the Hot Seat

Tom is our Managing Director, and established HealthBid in February 2015, with fellow Directors Brendan Fatchett and David Haslewood. He studied at Leeds University and has a considerable background in NHS management. He lives in Leeds with his wife and two children, and is a keen fan of musicals, the Tour de France and cooking.

What is your full name?

Thomas Edward Sheppard

What causes are you passionate about?

Mental health, performing arts and homelessness.

Sum up your day so far in three words.

Musicals. Coffee. Sales.

If you could be anybody for a day, who would you be and why?

At the moment, I’d like to be Lin-Manuel Miranda. He wrote Hamilton, and is currently working on Mary Poppins 2. I love a musical, particularly Hamilton. L-M.M. is riding the crest of a wave after working incredibly hard for the last twenty years and possessing so much talent – he was also recently nominated for an Oscar due to his songwriting for ‘Moana’.

What was the last thing you Googled?

HMS Britannic - the sister ship of the Titanic that sank in the Aegean during WWI. There’s always been controversy over whether it was hit by a torpedo or a mine, as it was clearly a hospital ship so a deliberate torpedo would have been a contravention of war principles…. It’s now been confirmed that the explosion was caused by a mine. Luckily not many people were onboard as it was on its way to collect more passengers…

Interesting! Pick your favourite cuisine…

Italian - because I like cooking, and it involves such simple ingredients to make a really good dish. I make an awesome plain tomato basil sauce. 

The failsafe question: what is your favourite cheese?

This is a difficult one, because I believe it’s a highly contextual choice. However, I would say cheddar cheese, but with a heavy heart because I’d be turning down another load of really good cheese. 

Name three different caffeinated beverages from: Costa… [for the avoidance of doubt, TS is no fan of this 70s café conglomerate)

Large overly milky coffee… No, Ok… A cortado, a skinny, soya latte with hazelnut syrup…  and a coke

A coke?! I suppose it has caffeine in… OK then, what is the best UK city, in your opinion?

I like London… as a place to visit – I wouldn’t like to live there- because it’s got the best of our history, as well as the most modern parts of Britain. There’s a feeling of being in a small town in some areas, but in others you feel like you’re in a hub – there’s a great mix of small town and big city. The range of people is also amazing.

Do you speak any languages?

I mean obviously, English, but also French - and I can speak 10 words of Icelandic.

What are they?

Well ‘bless’ is hello… and hvað heitir þú is ‘what’s your name?”

[NB: some clarification was needed as to spelling post-interview]

The Pub Quiz question: name Lorde’s new single…

Who is Lorde?

Oh… Next question: if you were an animal what would you be?

Good question, I think probably a sloth. I respect their lifestyle choices.

Good reasoning! And finally… name an interesting fact about yourself

I once got thrown by a donkey at a country fair when I was a kid. Again, I quite respect donkeys, because of their relaxed attitude to life.

Thanks Tom!

Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/6Xfuio

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Multiple Sclerosis: new developments regarding a mysterious disease

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Multiple Sclerosis: new developments regarding a mysterious disease

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the nervous system; decreasing vision, balance and movement due to the immune system’s self-sabotage, and reducing life span. Statistics indicate that those in the northern hemisphere are more likely to suffer from the disease, with women and younger generations particularly at risk of contracting the illness. Well-known sufferers of the illness include Stephen Hawking, first diagnosed aged 21 and now in his 54th year of living with the disease. The Oscar-winning film, ‘The Theory of Everything’ charts the problems that the disease has had on both his physical health and his personal relationships – publicising the all-encompassing toll MS has for sufferers and their loved ones. In this blog, we will be exploring the latest discoveries as to this disease.

History  

As neurologist Alastair Compston notes, Jean-Martin Charcot first observed MS as an entirely separate disease in 1865, after noting three such cases at the Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris. Initially named ‘scleroses plaques’, both English and German physicians noted the disease in early 20th century. Nowadays, scientists recognise that it is caused by the immune system mistaking myelin - an insulating substance surrounding nerve cells - for a foreign body and attacking it. In this way, it damages the nerves fibres and produces lesions throughout the central nervous system.

2017’s Discovery

Scholars from the Universities of Exeter and Alberta have recently discovered the protein, Rab32 exists in the brains of those diagnosed with MS, though it is notably absent in those who do not have the disease. Scientists allege that this situation means the cell which stores calcium becomes too close to the mitochondria, causing the so-called ‘powerhouse’ of the cell to misbehave. This produces toxicity in the cell itself; provoking the immunity problems which characterise MS. 

What does this mean for the future?

MS is notoriously mysterious - its relatively new discovery, combined with the brutal manner in which it attacks the body, means a cure has been long pursued, but never pinpointed. Scientists hope that this new revelation will mean go some way to illuminating an effective cure, to replace the current, temporary treatments for this disease.

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/23/breakthrough-multiple-sclerosis-research-scientists-discover/

http://www.itv.com/news/2017-04-24/major-new-discovery-made-in-finding-multiple-sclerosis-cause/ 

https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms/information-about-ms/about-ms

 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Multiple-Sclerosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Alastair Compston, PhD FRCP FMedSci, Christian Confavreux, MD, Hans Lassmann, MD, Ian McDonald, PhD FRCP FMedSci, David Miller, MD FRCP FRACP, John Noseworthy, MD FRCPC, Kenneth Smith, PhD, and Hartmut Wekerle, MD, 'McAlpine’s Multiple Sclerosis' (Fourth Edition, published 2005)

Photo Credit: Immune cell behaviour, from https://goo.gl/cjWeKt

 

 

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Georgia in the Hot Seat

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Georgia in the Hot Seat

Georgia joined HealthBid as a Bid Writer in April 2017 to produce a number of winning bids. She is a native of Yorkshire, and recently graduated with a Masters degree in Sociology from Edinburgh University. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling - particularly across South East Asia.

What is your full name

Georgia Claire Lee Hanson

What causes are you passionate about?

Feminism, and being a dementia friend - understanding more about the disease.

Sum up your day so far in three words.

Tea, typing, town. 

Kudos for the alliteration! If you could be anybody for a day, who would you be and why?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my teen role model. Saving the world, sassy one-liners, 90's fashion - the dream!

Excellent choice! What was the last thing you Googled?

'Define hyperkinetic disorder'.

Very studious! Favourite noodles flavour? [Note: noodles are the HealthBid team’s lunch of choice, so this is an extremely important question]

Mild curry flavoured Super Noodles

How do you feel about cheese?

Love it!

Any particular favourites?

Red Leicester, without a doubt

Have you ever lived abroad?

No, but I have travelled abroad. After I finished my undergraduate degree, I went travelling with a friend - we started in New Zealand, then went onto Australia, Bali, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and America. In total, we were away for seven months.

Wow! Do you speak any languages?

No, I wish I did though! It’s on the bucket list.

The Pub Quiz question: name Harry Styles’ new single…

I’m really sorry, I can’t!

If you were an animal what would you be?

An elephant

Can I ask why?

They’ve always been my favourite animal. When I was in Sri Lanka we did plenty of safaris and spotted this impressive tusker elephant.

And finally… name an interesting fact about yourself

I got stung by a sting ray once! I was in Florida, and I stood still for too long and I stepped on it… in all fairness, I would have stung me.

Ouch! Thanks Georgia!

Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/itE4pj

 

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The 2017 General Election and its Consequences for Procurement

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The 2017 General Election and its Consequences for Procurement

Speculation was rife across national and international media on 18th April, as Downing Street announced a surprise statement was to be made by the Prime Minister. Shortly before 11:15am, May took to the steps of 10 Downing Street to declare that she will petition Parliament to hold a General Election on 8th June 2017 - primarily to guarantee political stability during Britain’s exit from the European Union. 8th June looks to see Britons take to the polls for a third time in a year – the current government overseeing myriad changes in its short two-year tenure.

Whilst all of us will be wondering what June’s poll will mean for the political profile of the UK, we will be considering what this instrumental poll will particularly mean for procurement due to its forthcoming nature, as well as the legislation which dictates pre-election protocol.

Manifesto Promises

An inconsiderable seven weeks lie between the UK and this landmark election, and even this is compromised by the long-expected local and mayoral elections of 4th May. Thus it is unlikely that campaign manifestoes will radically differ from any proposals made in 2015’s various strategies. For the Conservative Government, any volte faces on policies are curbed by statutory legislation, detailed below.

Lengthening Procurement Timelines: Legislative Purdah

In HealthBid’s considerable bidding experience, political uncertainty is likely to have consequences far beyond Westminster. In fact, with the UK’s political leadership in such flux, it is probable that many large-scale procurement processes will be stalled by weeks, if not months. The ‘purdah’ period described by the Local Government Act 1986 will begin next week on 22nd April, thereby meaning that central government cannot publicise any groundbreaking government plans from this point onwards until 8th June. Across public procurement in particular, this decree will mean that any results as to the tendering of government contracts will be delayed.

The Flux of Political Handover

Several independent surveys predict a Conservative victory and the ratification of May’s existing administration. However, as 2016 proved, such polls are not always accurate predictions of political outcomes, and any transition from one political party to another is lengthy. As was exemplified in the extreme by the 2010 General Election, the handover process from the ousted government to the elected cabinet can take days, if not weeks, to formulate. In this way, ‘purdah’ is not simply grounded in statute, but guaranteed by the disorder which naturally results from the shift in the political pendulum. Prospective suppliers are therefore likely to experience delays in the tendering process throughout the months of June and July and possibly later; from the publication of tender opportunities, to the identification of a successful bidder.

HealthBid’s personnel command considerable knowledge of the vagaries which characterise public procurement. If you’re seeking to expand your business, but confused as to the complexity of bidding, contact our MD, Tom Sheppard, at tom.sheppard@healthbid.co.uk to see how we can help with business development.

Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/EGPE3F

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