Report of the Director of Public Health
The Cabinet considered the report of the Director of Public Health advising that the Integrated Sexual Health Service was currently provided by Southport & Ormskirk NHS Hospital Trust; that the Service was procured in 2018 through an OJEU light touch open procedure; that the contract started 1st July 2018 and had a four-year nine-month core contract ending on 31st March 2023 with three, one-year built in extension options; and that consideration was now required for activating the first of the 12-month extensions.
The report indicated that the available options were:
to activate the first of x 12month contact extension clauses within the contract and the further 2 extension options available as required; and
to re-procure the service with a start date of 1 April 2023.
That the Director of Public Health in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, be granted delegated authority to activate the first of the 12-month contract extension clauses to the Integrated Sexual Health Service contract and the 2 further 12-month extensions as required; and that the first contract extension be activated on the 1st of April 2023.
Reasons for the Decision:
The Integrated Sexual Health Service is a nationally mandated service which all local authorities are required to provide. The Service continues to deliver against the priorities identified in the service specification to a satisfactory level.
The service has been impacted during the covid pandemic and is still in a period of recovery. The service is reviewing the effectiveness of new models of working introduced in response to Covid 19 including a digital offer and telephone triage, to assess how far they meet the needs of the population post pandemic. This will require time for a period of review.
A procurement exercise has the potential to destabilise current service delivery and create uncertainty at a time when it is important to fully re-establish provision. The service is currently the testing site for Monkeypox within the borough and there are national NHS England plans for sexual health services to become local vaccination centres. The stability of the service is important for implementation of local service delivery. Public Health have recently completed a sexual health needs assessment which is intended to inform service developments which will require time to implement across the wider system and will need to be considered within the context of the new Integrated Care Board.
It is expected that a new national sexual health strategy will be launched in 2022/23 and it is advisable to wait and assess any new requirements before entering into a procurement exercise for a new service.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected:
The alterative option is not to extend the current contract with the Service and move to procure a new Integrated Sexual Health Service. This has been rejected due to economic and operational reasons. Moving to a procurement exercise has the potential to destabilise current Service delivery and to stall progress in re-establishing the service post pandemic. Additionally, there would be a resource cost associated with the officer time required for a procurement which would reduce capacity to deliver against other key priorities in Sefton.