Monitor Rejects Devon Commissioning Bias Complaints

A recent Monitor investigation has discovered that Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has not breached NHS commissioning regulations.

But the CCG will be suspended from carrying out further duties as the next phase of the investigation is concluded.

Monitor has since published the results of the investigation, after question marks were raised regarding the process for selecting community service providers in east Devon.

The sector regulator for health services in England was called upon to explore how commissioner selected Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust as its preferred provider of community services for adults with complex care needs.

But the investigation revealed that the commissioner did indeed satisfactorily consider patient needs and the service improvements required.

The process designed by the commissioner was thus deemed to be satisfactory to enable an adequate number of proposals to be considered appropriately.

However, the CCG still has further work to do in order to establish that the requisite level of value for money is being achieved before finally confirming the contract.

Catherine Davies, Executive Director of Co-operation and Competition at Monitor, noted that “patients are likely to be better off as a result of our investigation because the CCG will do further work before awarding the contract, especially around ensuring value for money.”

Monitor found that the CCG’s process was entirely proportionate, and thus the provider selected from the available options was appropriate according to Monitor’s conclusions.

Thus, the CCG’s process did not breach transparency requirements. “Having set out its vision for community services in the local area, NEW Devon CCG chose between providers in a way that was tailored to its needs,” Davies explained.

However, the Executive Director did point out that this particular process might not be applicable in other cases. “The approach NEW Devon CCG took won’t work in all cases, but it shows that commissioners can be flexible in their processes for selecting providers,” Davies opined.

In conclusion, Monitor found that there was no discriminatory or unequal treatment of potential providers in the process, and that it was unaffected by conflicts of interest.

Monitor had begun an investigation after it received a complaint from Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust.

The trust is currently responsible for community services in the region, having been awarded the contract to provide them.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust claimed than the CCG had carried out a process that was inadequate and unfair, but this notion has ultimately been rejected by Monitor.

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