Finance To Fulfil NHS Tenders
How can finance help your private healthcare business win more work?
NHS contracts are often the gold standard for private clinics and healthcare contractors looking to win more work. The NHS regularly puts work out to tender, offering contracts which represent significant value for private businesses. These contracts are lucrative and represent long-term revenue, making them highly competitive.
Table of Contents
To win an NHS contract, businesses that respond to the tenders must meet key expectations and demonstrate compliance with core standards. In some cases, you won’t meet the requirements stated in the tender unless you can upgrade your business – whether that’s through expanding your premises, purchasing new equipment or hiring new staff.
Whether you’re bidding on a tender or you’ve already won one and now face greater demands on your services, raising finance can help you bolster your business to fulfil NHS contracts better and grow your organisation. Finance allows you to:
- Expand your facility, either by converting existing premises or developing from the ground up.
- Improve your services by funding the recruitment of skilled workers.
- Purchase valuable assets such as machinery and other healthcare equipment to deliver better services.
All of these things may be critical in winning certain NHS contracts, where providers must demand a specific level of capacity and quality from contractors. Finance can give you the confidence to bid for more ambitious contracts, or take the next step up from your existing agreements.
Here at Rangewell, we specialise in helping businesses find the right lenders for their requirements and negotiating loans based on what you need. As experts in the healthcare finance industry, we know the unique challenges you face and can help you win more work.
How NHS tenders work
If you want to win NHS contracts, you need up-to-date information on how NHS commissioning works. Things have changed quite considerably as of 2023, due to the introduction of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). This move led to a major shift in how the NHS tenders for goods and services.
The majority of NHS tenders used to be put together by a clinical commissioning group (CCG), a body that oversees care for local GP practices and Primary Care Networks in their area. CCGs cover a multitude of regions across the UK, with over 135 in England alone.
However, the introduction of Integrated Care Systems aims to unify the healthcare strategy of regional healthcare providers to improve overall quality. ICSs are composed of healthcare commissioners, provider organisations and the local authority. Each ICS is intended to lead at the ‘systems’ level, which is the highest tier in the NHS’ local health oversight system.
‘Systems’ are the overall designation for areas of 1-3 million people. Each system contains ‘Places’ of 250,000-500,000, which themselves contain ‘Neighbourhoods’ of 30,000-50,000. The goal of ICSs is to integrate decision-making to improve overall service delivery. This, in turn, has a direct impact on contractors who want to sell to the NHS.
At a local scale, where your services affect the ‘Places’ and ‘Neighbourhoods’ level, contractors will still mainly deal directly with practices or commissioning groups. The main difference between ICSs and the previous CCG system comes at the ‘System’ level. When a service, such as Sexual Health, affects multiple boundaries within the ICSs area, any contractors will be commissioned by the ICS itself.
The rollout is still underway, so the exact process for contracting through an ICS is yet to be established – but the general idea is that a contractor will be expected to show that their products and solutions can meet the wide needs of the entire ICS rather than a specific service.
Due to the variety and complexity of the NHS’ commissioning process, it can be hard to spot and respond to a tender. Some businesses which meet certain criteria may be able to become a listed ‘Approved Provider’ for certain services, such as those commissioned through the Increasing Capacity Framework. Otherwise, contractors must search for tenders through the NHS’ own portal, the Government’s ‘Find a contract’ tool and other third-party bid websites.
The NHS tender process
1. Prior information notice (PIN)
Some commissioning bodies will issue a PIN, which is an advance warning of an upcoming tender, which allows potential clients to respond early to register interest. This can be issued as much as 12 months in advance of a contract, though not all commissioning groups will do it.
2. Issue of NHS contract notice
The launch of any contract is accompanied by a contract notice, which explains the tender and the details involved. The NHS publishes these contract notices in different places, depending on requirements. ICSs will ultimately decide how they commission for each service.
3. SQ or PQQ
The next stage is to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), or a selection questionnaire (SQ) – essentially the same document. You need to fill these out to show that you’re qualified for the task. Many of the questions are around your capabilities to ascertain whether you’re actually able to fulfil the NHS’ requirements.
Whilst intended as a time-saving tool to filter out businesses that can’t meet the NHS’ needs, you can utilise finance to help you bid for more ambitious contracts that you would otherwise be excluded from. By talking to lenders ahead of an application and getting consent for certain types of finance, you can increase your financial and technical capacity, which you can represent on these questionnaires. Keep reading to find out more, or contact us now to see how Rangewell can help you bid for bigger contracts.
Once you’ve passed the initial questionnaire, you’ll be given an ‘Invitation to Tender’, or ITT. This document will outline how you need to respond to a certain contract and which information you’re expected to provide. The ITT will include deadlines, procurement timetables, service commencement dates, contract award dates and more.
5. Interviews and presentations
In some cases, multiple suppliers will compete for the same contract. If the NHS can’t make a clear decision after the ITT stage, you may be invited to attend an interview or host a presentation to further demonstrate your capabilities.
Even if the NHS has decided on your company based on your ITT response, you may still have to present before being awarded the contract – especially if you’re providing a software or technical solution that needs to be demonstrated.
6. Contract award
Once all of these steps are completed, the preferred bid will be selected and approved. In most cases, there is a cooling-off period that allows other bidders to lodge a challenge if they suspect any foul play. After this period ends, the winner will be announced publicly.
How finance can help you win more contracts
Finance helps support healthcare contractors across the UK in expanding their businesses and plugging cashflow gaps. Financial lenders also help ambitious companies bid for more sizeable NHS contracts, which, if won, allow you to take your business to the next level.
By talking to healthcare lenders with Rangewell acting on your behalf, you’ll be able to secure decisions on funding and finance that may help you win contracts you could otherwise not compete for. Here are some scenarios to illustrate how finance may help you with your NHS contract ambitions:
Supplying products for NHS trusts
If you’re bidding for a procurement tender to supply products to the NHS, you need to be able to guarantee a certain level of stock delivery to meet key deadlines. In some cases, however, you may have difficulty sourcing and purchasing the stock in time to meet the deadline.
Ordinarily, this would mean giving up on bidding for the contract. If, however, you have a discussion with lenders through Rangewell, you may be able to secure a pre-agreement for stock, which means you can instantly draw the finance you need to order from anywhere in the world and ensure stock meets the deadline given in the contract.
Demonstrating capacity to the NHS and lenders alike
If you’re already working with the NHS, you may be offered to take on more work or a more sizeable contract. This contract would, if won, increase your revenue by a wide margin – but it would also necessitate a much higher level of service and resources. In some cases, this may mean sourcing bigger premises with a commercial mortgage.
Lenders will only look at your existing financial performance if you approach them individually. Rangewell can instead help demonstrate the potential revenue your business will generate once you win the contract – attracting lender offers based on that figure rather than your existing performance.
This means you can win better finance agreements that can help you buy the new premises you need and confidently take on the higher level of contract.
Showcasing better technological capabilities
The NHS often demands a certain level of service from contractors. If you have the most up-to-date healthcare technology that can meet requirements, you may be able to beat competitors and be awarded a contract.
Healthcare equipment is generally expensive, with costs soaring into the millions of pounds. For some businesses, purchasing this equipment would be unlikely or impossible without finance. By working with a lender to arrange asset finance, you can use the technology to improve your service and win more NHS contracts.
Medical equipment finance agreements offer a more flexible approach to lending where the asset’s total value provides security to the lender and you repay monthly until you either own or sell the asset.
Win more NHS contracts with Rangewell
If you’re a clinical contractor looking to win more work from the NHS, being able to offer a higher standard of service through improved staffing, expanded premises, specialist equipment or any other addition can be the difference between you or a competitor being awarded the contract.
Finance takes many different forms, with certain lenders specialising in healthcare and medical finance. Before you consider which type of loan you need and how repayments will impact your business, talk to Rangewell. We’ll discuss your business, your plans for the future and your ambitions around upcoming tenders.
Once we have a better idea of your existing situation and future goals, we’ll help identify suitable lenders and arrange finance to support your needs and also demonstrate your improved capacity to the NHS when you submit your next tender response.