The East Kent Community Drug and Alcohol Service was commissioned in 2017. The contract was awarded to the Forward Trust and commenced on 1 May 2017 with an end date of 31 March 2022. This contract has allowable extensions contained within the contract for a further 36 months. The intention is to extend the contract by 24 months to align all adult drug and alcohol contracts to end in March 2024. This will give the Council maximum flexibility and opportunity to re-commission in a way that will effectively support Kent residents in the future. Commissioners plan to procure all the contracts as one exercise which will allow for economies of scale and shared engagement with all the market.
Reason for the decision:
The East Kent Community Drug and Alcohol Service contract is due to end on 31 March 2022. Commissioners have undertaken a formal contract review of the service to determine whether KCC should extend the contract (as per the contract clause) or go through a new procurement exercise. Key findings from the contract review are outlined below along with the recommendation to extend the contract.
As with many commissioned social care and health services at present, there is difficulty in recruitment to vacant roles in drug and alcohol services, both clinical and non-clinical. Maximising stability is therefore favoured in any decision that is made on these services.
Background on the East Kent Drug and Alcohol Service Review:
Since May 2017, The Forward Trust have delivered the East Kent Drug and Alcohol Service. The contract started in May 2017 and was for a period of five years to the end of March 2022, with the agreed option to extend for up to a further three years.
The service contributes directly to the KCC Interim Strategic plan (published December 2020) by supporting older and vulnerable adults to maintain a good quality of life and contributing to children having the best start in life. The service also contributes towards improving public health outcomes, reducing health inequalities, and minimising harm caused by drugs and alcohol in East Kent.
The Forward Trust and Commissioners continually work together to improve the service and such work has included service re-design, performance improvement plans, and undertaking pilot initiatives. However, improvements can still be made in order to ensure the service thrives and offers the best support for those most in need.
Given the good performance of the current contract and the potential for disruption to vulnerable individuals by making unnecessary changes, it is recommended that the extension to the contract is enacted for 24 of the allowable 36 months. If the contract was not extended and went out to procurement, the increasing cost pressures coupled with significant workforce recruitment issues across the sector may make bidding for the contract unappealing to providers, which may result in KCC undertaking a costly process, with few resulting options for alternative provision.
The impact of the recent Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak also supports an extension to the service as PHE guidance until recently stated that “Re-commissioning and re-tendering of standard services will likely need to be put on hold for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic ”. This guidance was withdrawn on the 19 July 2021 after being in place for over a year. It is recognised that during the coronavirus pandemic, the charity sector (in which Forward Trust sits) faces extremely demanding and ever-changing challenges.
How the proposed decision meets the objectives of the Council’s Strategic Plan – December 2020:
At the time they were commissioned the service was expected to contribute to KCC’s strategic outcomes at the time including:
In a post-Covid environment the Council’s Strategic Plan continues to focus upon support for people who are vulnerable and who are in need, and the continued delivery of this service into 2024 maintains the delivery of this service to vulnerable adults living in East Kent.
Data Protection implications:
General Data Protection Regulations are part of current service documentation for the contract and there is a Schedule of Processing, Personal Data and Data Subjects confirming who is data controller/ processor. There is also an existing DPIA relating to the data that is shared between KCC, the provider and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (previously named Public Health England) and the services.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 08/12/2021
Decision due: Not before 8th Feb 2022 by Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health
Lead director: Dr Allison Duggal
Department: Social Care, Health & Wellbeing
Contact: Email: Nicola.McLeish@kent.gov.uk.
The proposed decision was considered and endorsed at the Health Reform and Public Health Cabinet Committee meeting on 20 January 2022.
Financial implications: The value of the 24 month contract extension (1 April 2022 to 31 March September 2024) will be approximately the following: East Kent Drug and Alcohol Service- £9,819,620 (based upon the current financial year’s figures)
Legal implications: The proposed extension is in line with what was outlined in the original contract as a contract clause. This proposed extension is in line with Public Contracts Regulations 2015 which set out the legal basis for Local Authority procuring services.
Equalities implications: An EqIA was undertaken when the service was commissioned in 2017. The proposal to extend the contract would represent ‘No change’ in the current service delivery and is deemed the most appropriate option. There is no potential for discrimination and this option is an appropriate measure to advance equality and create stability in a vulnerable cohort. An EQIA will be drafted as part of the future recommissioning process to continually assess and consider the options and whether ‘No change’ remains the most appropriate option.