The Co-operation and Competition Panel (CCP) has taken on its first procurement appeal, more than 18 months after it was set up. Procurement appeals can only be referred to the CCP once local dispute resolution at PCT and SHA level has been exhausted.

The case involves a tender by NHS North of Tyne for specialist orthodontic services. An unsuccessful tenderer is challenging the process as being in breach of the following parts of the Principles and Rules of Co-operation and Competition (PRCC):

  • principle 1: commissioners should commission services from the providers best placed to meet the needs of their patients and populations; and
  • principle 3: commissioning and procurement should be transparent and non-discriminatory.

The complainant alleges that the process treated bidders unequally and was not transparent. In particular, it is alleged that one of the panel members for the procurement discriminated against the complainant, that there have been serious errors in the scoring and that there has been a lack of transparency in areas such as failing to allow bidders to ask questions and failing to keep proper records of scores.

Although the dispute resolution at local level found that there was no breach of principles 1 or 3 of the PRCC, the CCP has decided that there are sufficient concerns to investigate the alleged breaches. The complainant is asking for a recommendation that the award decision be set aside. A decision is due by 7 October 2010.