SME healthcare recruiters could miss out on a major new framework agreement.
The new Government Procurement Service (GPS) framework agreement for the supply of locum doctors, due to go live in July, stipulates a smaller number of suppliers than frameworks in the past.
• Lot 1 — neutral vendor: managed service provision. Maximum five suppliers compared with 12-15 in the past.
• Lot 2 — managed service. Maximum 20 suppliers compared with around 50.
• Lot 3 — for perm staff. Maximum 20 suppliers, cannot be compared with previous frameworks.
Lot 2 requires being able to supply 50,000 staff hours in a year, equating to a £5m turnover company where the average charge rate was £100 an hour. But recruiters who don’t have this capacity can supply through consortia or through sub-contractors.
Michael Saggers, managing partner at Mode Medical Recruitment in Hertfordshire, who described his agency as “small”, said that despite allowing agencies to work together, he had decided against bidding. “Do I really want to get involved with another agency, when all of a sudden you are sharing your doctors with other people?” said Saggers, who added that he had received offers from other agencies to work together. “If the big guys want to go after the large contracts and spend hours in a Dutch auction, that’s up to them,” he added.
Salim Shahul, chief executive of dr-locums, told Recruiter that allowing agencies to collaborate made the process “more inclusive. In that respect it goes against the grain of the traditional tendering process”.
However, he questioned the one month agencies had to form consortia. “We could end up with a lot of partnerships that have not been fully thought through. The jury is out until we hear the outcome from the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)” after which selected recruiters will be invited to tender. The director of a large healthcare recruiter, who wished to remain anonymous, told Recruiter: “This will turn the healthcare sector upside down and could create a huge off-framework market as the new framework won’t be able to meet demand.”
The GPS spokesman told Recruiter: “We are confident that this procurement provides good opportunities for SMEs.”