Following on from HEFT/Heartlands winning the current screening contract, they are now beginning the procurement process for practices to provide diabetic screening services. They have decided not to negotiate with the LOC over any terms or fees, and the LOC are not part of the bidding process.
The LOC have informed HEFT in no uncertain terms that it is the LOCs position that HEFT should contact all practices directly (both those already screening and those not), and that the LOC doesn’t take any responsibility for informing practices of the tender opportunity.
We are posting this in order to maintain transparency.
HEFT have emailed the following on 5/10/16 to all existing screening practices. (NB the links to finditinbirmingham and Bravo were not active in the original email):
As I’m sure you are aware the Optometry Diabetic Eye Screening contract is due for renewal, therefore we have to embark on a procurement process that will appoint a number of Optometrists onto a new contract for an agreed period of time. The number of sites required for each CCG area is detailed in the tender documents.
The invitation to tender will set out the Trusts requirements; it will include a specification and a number of questions that will need to be answered as part of the response. Some will be mandatory yes/no responses, others will be free text, and you will have around a month to complete the online submission.
The opportunity will be advertised on the finditinbirmingham website next week. The advert will signpost you to Bravo, this is the Trust e-tendering portal, on the webpage you will be able to view the opportunity and download the documents.
The documents contain all of the information you need to submit your bid, if however if you have any queries during the process please do not hesitate to contact us, this should only be done through the portal and not directly to our individual emails.
I trust all of this is self-explanatory and gives you an overview of the process, but if you have any concerns prior to applying please contact one of us at the email address below.
As an existing provider, we look forward to receiving your submission in due course,
And on 6th October HEFT sent the following to all screening sites:
As many of you are aware this procurement exercise has been on the cards for some time and if you wish to continue screening you must complete the procurement exercise, you will not automatically roll over to the new contract.
The team and I are extremely proud of our screening programme and we, including all the optometry screening sites have worked really hard to build this programme up to be one of the flagship programmes in the UK. We are also really keen to keep it as a community based optometry model as we believe this model works well for our patients, we have introduced alternative Hospital screening locations in all CCG areas that also allows for transport services to be used for patients with mobility issues.
We are looking to provide better coverage but more importantly access for our patients; I believe the spread of our sites is pretty good with minimal and acceptable travel times/distances however access days & times do vary from site to site. We are hoping that more sites including Hospital sites will offer weekend and evening appointments to help patients wishing to book when not working for example. We are working on implementing uptake improvement strategies to get more patients screened; we typically screen 80% of our population so there are still huge numbers of patients failing to engage in screening.
Nationally there has been a move away from optometry to GP practice screening. As stated we like the optometry model and have no wish to move away from it however in its current form is it not sustainable and certainly will not be by the time we have to retender for the whole service.
As a programme we pay out about 1.5 Million pounds PA to our optometry screening sites and 100k a year is spent on on-going BT/N3 costs. As a result due to EU Tendering regulations we have to do a tender exercise and cannot keep existing sites and “just add new ones”.
When Heart of England NHS FT was awarded the screening contract in 2014 we had very stiff competition from private providers and we narrowly were awarded the contract, we were not the cheapest but won on quality. The costs that we submitted for the contract effectively mean that we receive £5 less per patient screened than on the previous contract prior to 2014. From talking to other programmes around the country, programmes charge commissioners between £26 and £40 per patient. This charge has to include software, hardware (computers, servers, cameras, Slit lamps, charts), drops, all admin + call centre costs, printing and postage costs, telephone bills, screening and grading staff costs, hospital transport costs etc.
We are at the lower scale of the above mentioned figure and to deliver to these costs the programme has made many internal sacrifices to streamline the service, staffing, IT, equipment, and printing suppliers. To date no costs have been passed onto optometry sites so under the new screening contract will have some amendments:
£11 flat tariff for screening instead of £12 for over 800 patients PA
£40 a month contribution per location towards the BT/N3 costs
Screening sites will supply their own screening/admin computers (this has been suggested by many existing sites)
New optometry sites and existing ones that move premises will pay for the BTN3 set up costs currently c£1000 per site
We hope once you have read and digested the documentation you will wish to continue screening and apply for a new screening contract. The team and I look forward to continue work with you and new optometrists in the near future.
As stated if you wish to continue screening you must complete the procurement exercise, you will not automatically roll over to the new contract.
Joint Programme Manager & Grading Centre Manager
Senior Screener & Grader”
We want to make clear that HEFT may be/may have already started to inform all practices and not just those already screening, and that we are not suggesting they were going to only inform existing screening sites.
If you have further questions please use the email link in the body of the first email above. We do not have any further information at this time.