Editor Steve predicts the future…
When – if – the procurement process for the Northern Ireland Remote Monitoring Service that is being conducted by the European Centre for Connected Health (ECCH) is ever drawn to a conclusion, there will be no winners. Even if the contract is awarded.
Well, there will be one minor winner, the consultancy that was paid to produce a report on the short listed companies, way back at in the early days of the tender. That report will make interesting reading when it is eventually released.
As for the rest, there are no winners. When the contract is awarded to the TF3 consortium (comprising Tunstall, Fold Housing Association Limited and Silicon and Software Systems Limited), as it surely will be, given the process of elimination we can now undertake,* it will be a hollow victory.
The marathon three-year procurement process (which has a surprising number of parallels with They shoot horses, don’t they? – check it out), has cost all the bidders significant amounts of management attention and money to attend the demonstrations and meetings required of them over the years.
So everyone will be losers:
- the ‘winners’, who will be suspected of succeeding only because they survived the longest
- the other bidders, because of the wasted time and cost
- the ECCH, which should have been put out of its misery two years ago
- the people listed on the ECCH website as clinical representatives and advisory group members who have failed to disassociate themselves from the fiasco
- the health minister Michael McGimpsey who authorised the project, announced it in January 2008, and who has lost grip on it since
- the NI Assembly’s Health Committee that has failed to hold the Minister to account
- the UK taxpayers, which have been funding the ECCH
But the principal losers have been, of course, the thousands of people and their families who could have started benefiting from the service two years ago if the procurement had been conducted along conventional lines.
In addition, future potential patients will miss out because the element of EU funding in the original £46 million pot has been lost owing to the delays, so the service will be smaller and serve fewer people if it ever gets off the ground.
As I wrote back in September 2009 “…any one of the four short listed consortia could probably make a reasonable fist of delivering the required service”. But, by letting time eliminate bidders, the ECCH has spared Minister McGimpsey from having to flip a coin for the result and has spared its managers from having to find a justification for it.
Finally, many readers will be acutely aware of the irony of the loss of Home Telehealth Limited to the procurement because during the past couple of years it has been in Northern Ireland successfully delivering on a smaller scale the very type of service that ECCH set out to procure!
* For readers less familiar with the story, the process of elimination goes like this:
- Two of the original four short listed bid consortia (the ones led by Hewlett Packard and Robert Bosch Healthcare) withdrew from the process last year. [TA item]
- The BT-led bid must have been fatally flawed by the acquisition last week of its bid partners Home Telehealth Limited by Alere. [TA item]
- The TF3 consortium will therefore be declared winners.
[Disclosure: HTL has been a Telecare Aware advertiser]