European Proposals Would “Give More Scope for Negotiation” says the NHS

The EU’s (European Union) proposal for a new directive on public procurement will permit “more scope for negotiating with suppliers,” according to the NHS Confederation.

The plans, which have been published by the European Commission this week, contain a number of provisions intended to simplify the rules for the purchasing goods and services, and making them more flexible, and could see the NHS having to advertise all their contracts over 500,000 Euros.

While much of the proposal is welcomed by the NHS, further clarity, and subsequent changes, are still required on some of the proposals, according to the NHS Confederation.

The plans include:

  • Increased flexibility and simplification in areas including the procedures to follow negotiations and time limits;
  • A special regime for health service contracts, which will replace the distinction between Part A and Part B services. Contracts below the new threshold of 500,000 euros will be subject to a “lighter” public procurement regime, given their limited cross-order interest. Although the Confederation also observes that contracts over 500,000 euros will now need to appear among the contracts and award notices published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU);
  • A lighter regime for sub-central contracting authorities, with a higher threshold of 200,000 euros and the possibility to use a simplified and faster procedure;
  • Clarification about when collaboration between public bodies is not subject to public procurement rules; and
  • A mandatory requirement for contracts to be divided into lots.

The Confederation commented that the new rules are particularly timely, given the developments presently taking place within health and social care in England, and government principles aimed at inspiring NHS organisations to procure goods and services from a wider range of suppliers.

Elizabeth Zanon, the director of the Confederation’s NHS European office, is reported as stating that the European proposal would be “a significant change and we will have to fully consider its potential implications.”

However she added, “from both a procedural and a cultural perspective, this legislation will impact the way commissioners routinely tender for services in the future.”

“The proposed directive allows more scope for negotiating with suppliers,” said Ms Zanon.


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