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Promoting Success in Competitive Tendering

Learn something about the NHS tendering process and see how OCC Ltd may be able to help you if you are thinking of bidding for an NHS contract.

OCC offers a personal service provided by experienced professional advisers with a good track record of success. Each client is treated as an individual and is assigned to a named adviser who will handle your bid from start to finish.

NHS Commissioning
NHS England may soon be seeking out dental practice owners willing to expand their businesses and potential new practice owners able to take on new service developments so that local access problems can be tackled. There is a small industry providing consultancy support to the dental profession, ours is focused, professional and cost-effective.

Why You Need Help
The paperwork associated with the tendering process is enough to make any self-respecting dentist go pale, running, as it often does, to hundreds of pages of written answers and practice policy documents.

OCC Ltd is able to offer a great deal of support to any GDP who wants to expand an existing business or create his or her new NHS practice but who is terrified of the paper trail that emanates from NHS England. Our experienced team has now been involved in well over 150 bids, about half of them successful, and on every occasion we have been told that the GDPs we work with could not have done it without us.

We work in any area of England but we never work for two people bidding for the same contract in the same area. This avoids any conflict of interest and reassures our clients that our attention is focused on their problems alone in their area.

The Paper Trail
The procurement process starts with a simple ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI). This literally amounts to telling the commissioning body you are interested in the contract money and UDAs they have to offer. Once you have sent in your EOI you are asked to fill in a Pre-Qualifying Questionnaire (PQQ). The purpose of the PQQ is to establish whether you are a fit person to be making a bid in the view of the commissioner and to avoid both you and them wasting time. The PQQ may well run to more than 30 pages of detailed questions.

After the PQQ comes the ITT - the Invitation to Tender. At this stage the commissioner is telling you that it believes you are good enough to bid for the money they have on offer but they now want precise details of what you are going to do in return for the money. The reply to the ITT can run into several dozens of pages and several copies on paper or on CD may be required for the panel that is going to hear you talk about your bid. Some bids are done online and the record for the longest ITT document currently stands at 230 pages.

The Interview Stage
Talk about your bid? - oh! Yes. Once you have put forward a credible bid you will be asked to attend the commissioner's offices for a first interview. You may be required to make a 10 or 15 minute presentation (something many dentists feel very uncomfortable about) and the interview may last an hour or more. If you get past the first interview you may be asked to go back and talk your way through a second interview. This may be very short if you are to be informed your bid has failed or it might take another hour or so during which you may be subjected to significant pressure to drop your price substantially.

The commissioner may then engage in what they call 'competitive dialogue' which is a negotiation about what you can offer and what price they might be prepared to offer you for your services. This is dangerous territory for the unprepared. It's easy to promise too much in the desire to secure that funding.

Every detail of your bid can be examined and every item of cost will be challenged. If your paper work is not up to the mark you will find yourself outside the interview room without any new business - despite all the hard work you have put in.

The Result
Some people who are successful in attracting an offer from the commissioner, end up turning down the offer because the price attached to the new work is simply too low, others take on new business with a will and make it work for them.

If you are a GDP and you try to do this alone the chances are you will fail. Our experience tells us that commissioning and competitive tendering are a complicated and difficult business to get right. We can offer you high quality support and the price we charge is small compared to the size of the contracts on offer.

How much will it cost?
In order to give you some idea of costs, a single PQQ would probably cost you about £650 and an ITT would probably cost around £1250. Further support may be needed and will be charged at an hourly rate of £100. The basis for all our charges is an hourly rate and the bidder who does much of the work himself or herself will pay considerably less than someone who wants us to do everything for them.

Ask for help
: give John Renshaw a ring initially on 01723 366122 (evening) or 07721 538536

Alternatively, try emailing John on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.