The Digital Healthcare Council has expressed concern over experiences NHS England is in talks with AccuRx to increase its present contract providing free video session providers to GPs.
Graham Kendall, director of the Digital Healthcare Council (DHC), stated it “beggars perception” the know-how provider’s current contract could possibly be rolled over “with out open competitors”.
AccuRx was one among quite a lot of suppliers drafted by NHS England to provide video session providers freely to GPs on the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However the provider introduced video session providers would change into chargeable from April 2021 below its AccurRx Plus service. It’s AccuRx Lite service stays free, however doesn’t cowl video consultations, on-line consultations or appointment reminders.
AccuRx Plus launched in January 2021 and likewise contains affected person triage, batch messaging and appointment reminders, and SMS providers.
NHS England is reportedly in talks with AccuRx to increase the suppliers contract to supply free video consultations to GPs, with Medical Commissioning Teams understood to be absorbing the associated fee, according to Pulse.
The publication reported that commissioners can be protecting the price of the now chargeable AccuRx providers from 1 April to 31 December 2021.
Kendall criticised the rolling over of incumbent contracts, which he stated would deny native GPs “significant” alternative over digital options.
“We perceive why contracts had been rushed via on the top of the Covid disaster final 12 months with little or no competitors, nevertheless it’s been clear for a lot of months that the present preparations had been resulting from lapse,” he stated.
“It subsequently beggars perception that current contracts look set to be rolled over with out open competitors simply on the level that the brand new Digital Care Companies catalogue is about to be launched.
“Rolling over incumbent contracts with out competitors will deny native GPs a significant alternative in how they supply distant and on-line consultations, runs opposite to the spirit of native choice making set out within the latest white paper and sends deeply damaging indicators to digital healthcare suppliers.”
A brand new £75m Digital First, On-line Session and Video Session (DFOCVC) Framework, launched in December 2020, was designed to broaden GPs entry to distant monitoring providers, together with video consultations.
The framework builds on the GP IT Futures framework launched in January 2020. GP IT Futures offers a listing of trusted IT suppliers aimed toward supporting GPs and commissioners to check and buy digital providers.
Each frameworks sit below the umbrella of the Digital Care Companies catalogue, which the Digital Healthcare Council understands is because of go dwell quickly.
AccuRx, together with a collection of greater than 60 suppliers, are included on the GP IT Futures framework.
Functions for the Spark Framework had been resulting from shut in June 2020, however in September 2020 Digital Well being Information revealed a “technical error” left some suppliers “omitted” from the procurement course of. Crown Industrial Companies confirmed it had not disrupted the deliberate timescale of the framework.
NHS England advised Pulse particulars for the take care of AccuRx are “nonetheless being finalised”. Digital Well being Information contacted NHS England and AccuRx for remark.
Backlash over session
It’s not the primary time the federal government or NHS England has been criticised for a scarcity of open competitors when awarding tech contracts.
Information of the supposed AccuRx deal comes as NHS England dedicated to not lengthen tech agency Palantir’s £23m contract past Covid-19 makes use of with out consulting the general public first.
The award of Palantir’s two-year contract to proceed work on the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer, below the Crown Industrial Companies G-Cloud 11 Framework, sparked backlash from privateness consultants and campaigner.
Foxglove Authorized and openDemocracy introduced a judicial assessment towards the federal government over what they labelled a “secret” deal that required larger transparency. They claimed final month the federal government had “conceded” the case and stated it could not provide Palantir a long-term function within the NHS with out public session.
Nonetheless, an NHS England spokesperson denied “conceding” the case and stated the organisation had “at all times acted in accordance with its authorized obligations”.
Palantir was contracted in March 2020 to assist develop the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer for a payment of £1. The contract was resulting from expire in June however was prolonged for 4 months at a price of £1million.
In December 2020, the agency was awarded a £23m two-year contract to proceed its work on the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer.