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May 13, 2019

From network security to Cloud, telemedicine and machine learning: the new HealthTrust framework opens for business

HealthTrust Europe (HTE) currently manages one of the largest frameworks for the provision of ICT solutions to the healthcare sector in the UK.

HealthTrust Europe (HTE) currently manages one of the largest frameworks for the provision of ICT solutions to the healthcare sector in the UK. The current framework includes the likes of Softcat, SCC, SBL, XMA, Insight Direct and Dell EMC. THE’s ICT Solutions Framework, launched in 2016, is coming to an end, and the market has been expecting HTE to announce a replacement.

This week HTE made such announcement by publishing a contract notice for a tender process to form an ICT framework agreement.

In recent years, HTE has become an increasingly powerful actor in the UK for the provision of private healthcare and the management of procurement processes for the NHS. HTE is a subsidiary of the US-based HCA Healthcare, whose UK’s arm is the country’s largest provider of privately funded care. Readers will remember how HCA’s role in the private healthcare sector and its joint ventures with the NHS have often been cited as examples of creeping privatisation of the health service. However, this particular framework is unlikely to raise any eyebrows.

Suppliers can apply to join the new ICT solutions framework agreement until 3rd June, with the contract expected to come into effect for successful suppliers at the end of August.

The framework’s extensive scope and large number of possible users mean that potential rewards for suppliers who make the cut is potentially huge. This potential is borne out in the the framework’s total value, which is estimated at £6bn (though that figure represents a best case scenario and is unlikely to be reached).

Providers will be expected to offer end-to-end solutions across five key ICT categories: hardware, software, ICT security, ICT technology and computer science. These include a range of solutions ranging from network hardware and many software categories to data and network security tools, and training services. In addition to more traditional IT products, the scope of the framework also includes the provision of digital solutions that support the NHS’s ambitions to quickly achieve a core level of digitisation across all health organisations. As such, Cloud services, telemedicine tools, analytics and machine learning also fall within the scope.

Potential buyers will include all health organisations, ministerial departments and devolved governments across all UK nations, but the framework will also be open to local authorities, charities, social enterprises, prisons, providers of social housing and educational establishments. Private healthcare providers may also have access to the framework in the future at HTE’s discretion.

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Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) – the partnerships between health organisations and local authorities that operate across 44 geographies in England – and their subsequent evolution, Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) do not have status as legal entities (yet). However, the framework recognises the direction of travel in the NHS in England, and recognizes the shift in the locus of decisions on procurement to the STP level. The new framework does in fact outline the possibility for STPs to issue and tender specific requirements by re-opening competitions within the framework.

Given its extensive scope, the framework is suited fort Value Added Resellers (VARs), who can provide solutions across many of the solutions on the framework and have the system in place to meet additional demands through sub-contractors and partners. Consortia of suppliers are also a possibility to answer all the demands for products and services within the framework.

The framework will last for two years, with possible additional extensions up to a total of four years.

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