Monday, 29 July 2013

Dispatches reaches the parts contract management can't reach

Yet again Channel 4's Dispatches reaches the parts contract management just doesn't seem to reach - this time the NHS 111 service. I don't think anyone should be surprised by poor implementation of the 111 service which has been commented on elsewhere - 111 is just the latest of a litany.

The service portrayed in the programme was truly disgraceful. But what we appear to be witnessing recently is a culture of apathy and acceptance of that's the way it is in the NHS. We see representatives from the BMA and the Royal College of Nursing who appear genuinely surprised that the service is so bad, yet clinicians (their members) are supposed to be a key part of the 111 service delivery - how come their own members didn't make them aware of the lack of clinicians?

While it may be consoling to point the finger at other professions, one of the biggest indictments appears to be the complete absence of any meaningful contract management system. I recently posted a guest blog on Spendmatters which suggested we need undercover supply manager. Despatches' investigative reporters seem to have a better understanding of where to look for contract failures than those responsible for contract management - why couldn't those responsible for the service have uncovered the poor quality of service delivery? Why didn't the contract management system work?

While I am sceptical about the new Commercial Commercial Service, here's a suggestion for their leadership: get a high-powered team undercover supply managers trained by investigative journalists, such as those with Dispatches or the Sunday Tines, and use as part of strategic public procurement contract management.

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