Health & Social Care Procurement and Brexit
How Health and Social Care Tendering will change, with or without a UK/EU agreement
It about six months to the 29th March 2019 when the UK leaves the European Union. After almost 18 months we are now beginning to see what changes will occur in the areas of services procurement, tendering and bidding after Brexit as these relate to health and social care. In the event that there is an Agreement between the UK and the EU, there will a transition period of 21 months during which new arrangements and regulations in all areas, including procurement will be put in place. If there is no deal, the changes will be made from “exit day” itself.
In July 2018 the EU published a document entitled: Preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 30 March 2019 which covers the implications of withdrawal from the EU perspective. This includes references to aspects of trade, data protection and professional qualifications. Other that stating that the UK would not be eligible to participate in EU procurement there is no specific reference to this subject. The document is set out under two headings under each section. These are:
a) Preparedness which covers that changes will be necessary regardless of the method by which the UK leaves the EU; and
b) Contingency which covers actions necessary if the UK leaves the EU with no agreement in place.
In July 2018 the UK Government published a White Paper entitled: The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European This is generally referred to in the media as the “Chequers Agreement”.This document confirms that the UK plans to remain within the EU Regulatory system for the trade in goods but provides general guidance only regarding services in the event of an Agreement.
Whilst there is no specific reference to the procurement of services, two words describe the UK approach which are “regulatory flexibility”.
On 24th September 2018 the UK Government published a series of 24 Technical Notices which provided Guidance only on legal arrangements in the event of a “no deal” Brexit. Each of the 24 Notices include between 2 and 12 detailed notices relating the main area. The Guidance on Trade includes a detailed note on how the Government plans procurement would work in the event of no deal. This also provides a clear impression of the Government’s plans for services procurement if a deal can be negotiated.
If an agreed deal does turn out to be the outcome of current negotiations, then we can expect either the current white paper to proceed or a new, updated version. Given the 21 months timeframe we can also expect that a consultation phase will be implemented. It will be important that small and medium sized providers make a full contribution at this point. Some providers did so regarding the 2015 PCRs consultation. But this was bound by the earlier EU Directive, giving the Government little room but to implement the Directive in full. Post Brexit this will change, regardless of the process, and finally will give providers a say in how future services for health and social care procurement is to operate in the UK.
TfC has produced a Position Paper which is available for no charge. The Paper uses the above documents to explain how the Government intends that services sector procurement will be operated in the UK specifically in the case of no deal and giving a general impression in the event that agreement is reached. TfC is tracking these government announcements; notices; announcements; and subsequent legislation over the coming year (or 18 months if the transition period is implemented). We will be providing updates for providers over the coming months with Guidance available as necessary including online briefing and/or face to face training.
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