NHSX launches procurement tool as pager phase-out begins in earnest

NHSX, the government agency tasked with digitally transforming the UK’s health service, has launched a service to help hospitals and clinics select pre-approved products to replace pagers.

The Clinical Communications Procurement Framework is designed to support organisations to adopt new services as part of health secretary Matt Hancock’s drive to phase out pagers by the end of 2021.

NHS organisations can choose either to make a direct award or start a mini-competition and choose the provider best suited to their needs.

There are concerns that clinicians could use consumer messaging services such as WhatsApp to replace these outdated systems, with compliance and data security being potential issues.

The framework allows hospitals and clinics to choose from suppliers who have been assessed to ensure they meet legislation requirements.

It also means that no formal tendering is required, potentially saving time and money in the procurement process.

There are a range of suppliers included, from large firms such as BT to smaller niche players such as Bleepa and Hospify.

NHSX is urging organisations using the service to take advice from those who will use it, listing “must-haves”, “wants” and critical success factors.

A team of helpers from a procurement hub can also give further advice before hospitals engage with suppliers directly.

Those using the framework are also urged to talk to suppliers directly to get further information about costs, timeframes and to better understand their own requirements.

Cinapsis, a secure communication for clinicians, is one of the tools selected for inclusion.

CEO and founder Dr Owain Rhys Hughes said: “The launch of this Procurement Framework marks a significant step in the modernisation of the NHS’s internal clinical communications. It’s essential that the phasing-out of pagers is coupled with the inauguration of highly effective, fit-for-purpose digital alternatives.”

Dr Tom Oakley, CEO of Feedback, which makes the Bleepa tool, said: “Bleepa has set a new standard for medical communication tools. I am delighted Bleepa has been awarded a place on the NHSX Clinical Communication Tool framework which positions Bleepa in the vanguard of medical imaging communications and provides a vehicle for potential reimbursement whilst simultaneously making Bleepa available to the whole of the NHS.”

The framework runs until 3 August 2022, with a possible extension for a further 12 months.

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