This case arose from a contract award by North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (“NENC”) in respect of an online ADHD Assessment, Diagnostic and Management Service.  The contract was awarded to the incumbent provider under Direct Award Process C of the PSR. Although another potential provider made representations to NENC, the contract award was confirmed and the other provider therefore referred the case to the Panel.

The Panel’s approach

The case was considered by the Panel Chair and two other members. On receipt of the provider’s referral, they applied the Panel’s case acceptance criteria. As this was the first case that the Panel has considered there was no need to apply the Panel’s prioritisation criteria. The referral was therefore accepted, and the Panel then carried out the review in accordance with its Standard Operating Procedures. The Panel received representations from the provider and NENC, and provided its assessment of the case and advice to NENC. The whole process from provider referral to publication of the Panel’s report took just over 5 weeks.

The issues

The Panel review focussed on whether the Online ADHD Service was a service where patients have a legal right to choose their provider; and if so, whether NENC was able to use Direct Award Process C to award a new contract to the incumbent provider. It first established that the service was one where patients have the right to choose their provider. In view of this, it concluded that NENC was unable to use Direct Award Process C because the PSR Regulations provide at para 6(4) that “where the proposed contracting arrangements relate to relevant health care services in respect of which a patient is offered a choice of provider … the authority must follow Direct Award Process B”. The PSR Statutory Guidance also makes it clear that where relevant authorities are required to offer choice to patients they cannot restrict the number of providers and therefore Direct Award Process B must be followed. The Panel therefore concluded that any award by NENC to the incumbent provider under Direct Award Process C would be in breach of the PSR Regulations and that NENC should abandon the current provider selection process.


This case shows that the Panel will provide a rapid and decisive response to referrals - at least until it receives a greater volume of cases. It also serves as a reminder to relevant authorities of the prescriptive nature of the PSR Direct Award Processes. Before selecting a particular contract award process, relevant authorities must check that the circumstances of their contract award fit within the terms of that process as set out in the PSR Regulations and Statutory Guidance. If in doubt, please seek advice before finalising your choice of contract award process.  

How Capsticks can help

If you have any queries around what's discussed in this insight, and the impact on your organisation, please speak to Mary Mundy or Peter Edwards to find out more about how Capsticks can help.