1. Mr Mitchell introduced the report and said the People’s Voice Contract encompassed HealthWatch Kent, a statutory responsibility for the Council, as well as wider resident and community engagement. The current contract would expire on 31 March 2022 and a short contract of six months was required to allow a procurement process to take place. Mr Mitchell responded to questions and comments from the committee, including the following:
(a) Asked how HealthWatch was provided in other Councils, Mr Mitchell said HealthWatch was an independent organisation and some Councils had HealthWatch on its own or combined it with other areas. Mr Mitchell said HealthWatch produced regular reports and a work plan was being produced jointly with NHS CCGs and Medway City Council.
(b) Asked whether Kent and Medway CCG’s decision to continue with the contract would be known before the main procurement took place Mr Mitchell said Kent and Medway CCG contributed towards the peoples’ voice element, specifically around mental health, and agreement was in place with Kent and Medway CCG for the next financial year;
(c) Asked whether the contract would be changed to a longer term Mr Mitchell said the aim was to have a 5-year contract to give stability to the provider. At present a 3-year fixed term contract with two single year extensions was being considered;
(d) Asked whether financial penalties for non-compliance would be included in the contract Mr Mitchell said incentives to perform against KPIs would be built into the procurement process; and
(e) Asked whether one or multiple providers would be considered Mr Mitchell said the current structure included a lead provider working with smaller providers. Engagement and feedback from local communities, residents and providers would be used in determining the best model.
2. It was RESOLVED that the decision proposed to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health to:
a) Approve procurement of a new People’s Voice Contract, which includes the delivery of Healthwatch Kent, for a maximum of five years (three years plus two single year extensions);
b) Approve a direct award contract, to the current provider (EK360), for a maximum of six months (1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022) to allow procurement to progress; and
c) Delegate authority to the Corporate Director Adult Social Care and Health to take relevant actions, including but not limited to finalising the terms of the contract modification or other legal agreements, as necessary to implement the decision, be endorsed.