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A new supplier framework could provide primary care trusts with data analysis services.

The framework consists of 14 organisations appointed to offer support services to the NHS through a new agreement, known as the Framework for procuring External Support for Commissioners (FESC).

The framework, which was announced by the Department of Health (DoH) on 5 October, comprises organisations that have undergone a robust pre-qualification process.

Likely services offered under the agreement include data analysis and contract management expertise, but organisations will not deal with the delivery of direct patient care. Data analysis would help PCTs assess the specific community needs of the local population, analyse trends, and pinpoint areas of particular need.

Although the services are not being provided as part of the NPfIT, a spokesperson for the DoH told GC News: "Each PCT will decide on the arrangements it will make with a supplier regarding access to NPfIT systems."

The framework is also expected to help PCTs obtain best value for money by reducing costs and freeing up resources linked to procurement.

Several PCTs have identified the possibility of using FESC to support part of their commissioning activities. These include among others Ashton, Leigh & Wigan PCT, Cambridgeshire PCT, Hampshire PCT and Hillingdon PCT.

The spokesperson said: "The potential pilots are already under way, although at different stages of their process. The framework will be available for any PCT to procure services once the pilot process has been completed."

Although a number of PCTs already seek external support in undertaking their commissioning activities, it is expected that the framework will provide easy access to a wealth of specialist expertise.

Health minister Ivan Lewis explained: "This new guidance will allow PCTs to benefit from a bank of knowledge already built up through the DoH procurement process. PCTs will be able to work with organisations that are already known and trusted, which will enable them to concentrate their efforts and expertise on providing patient care.

"Of course, it will be up to PCTs to decide if they want to use suppliers within the framework and, if they choose to do so, PCTs will remain fully responsible and accountable for managing the services provided."

FESC will form one part of the DoH's wider 'world class' commissioning programme, which will be developed in the autumn.

Selected FESC organisations include AXA PPP Healthcare Administration Services, BUPA Membership Commissioning, Dr Foster, trading as Dr Foster Intelligence, KPMG LLP, McKesson Information Solutions UK, Tribal Consulting and UnitedHealth Europe.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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