Issue details

24/00032 - New contracts for the provision of Post-Mortem Facilities for the Mid Kent & Medway, North West Kent, North East Kent, Central and South East Kent coroner areas

Proposed decision:

1)     Issue new contracts, via direct awards, for the provision of Post-Mortem Facilities in Mid-Kent and Medway, Northwest Kent, and East Kent, to commence from 1 April 2024 for a period of 3 years (36 months) with the option of extending for up to a further 2 years (24 months) 

 

2)     Delegate authority to the Director for Growth and Communities, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services to take relevant actions, including but not limited to, awarding, finalising the terms of and entering into the relevant contracts or other legal agreements, as necessary, to implement the decision

 

3)     Delegate authority to the Director for Growth and Communities, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services to  award extensions of contracts for commissioned services in accordance with the extension clauses within the contract (3 years + 2 year extension)

 

Reason for the decision:

The current contracts for PM facilities and staff expire on 31 March 2024. There is a need for these contracts to be renewed from 1st April 2024 to ensure continuity of this critical service.

 

Background:

The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 places a duty on Coroners to investigate deaths that are referred to them if they have reason to think that:

 

·       The death was violent or unnatural;

·       The cause of death is unknown; or

·       The deceased died while in prison, police custody or another form of state detention.

 

In some cases, the Coroner will order a Post-Mortem (PM) to establish the cause of death, and in such cases, the deceased is taken to one of five NHS mortuaries across Kent and Medway. On behalf of the Kent Senior Coroners, KCC ensures access to body storage and PM facilities across the Kent coroner areas. 

 

Options (other options considered but discarded):

Option 1: Do nothing

This is a statutory service, and unless contracts are put in place the system of coronial death investigation and certification in the Mid Kent & Medway, North West Kent, North East Kent, Central and South East Kent coroner areas will fail. The Council will also be at risk of receiving an inconsistent provision and quality of service, a lack of control over costs, and subsequent reputational ramifications.

 

Option 2: Go out to tender Competitive Tender Process

There are no private sector organisations within this marketplace locally, and previous experience of mortuary use outside of Kent has not delivered a suitable service. A competitive tender process will not yield a competitive process.

 

Option 3: Use of Framework or other viable contract mechanism.

There are no known frameworks or other viable mechanisms for the provision of mortuary facilities in England and Wales.

 

Option 4: One NHS Trust delivers all PMs.

No single facility can accommodate the number of PMs required. 

 

How the proposed decision supports the Framing Kent's Future - Our Council Strategy 2022-2026:

The decision supports Priority 2 of Framing Kent’s Future: Infrastructure for Communities, as it supports KCC’s duty to resource the Senior Coroners in Kent in carrying out their role.

 

How the proposed decision supports Securing Kent’s Future:

Contract review work and negotiation undertaken to date supports Objective 2 of Securing Kent’s Future (Delivering savings from identified opportunity areas to set a sustainable 2024/5 budget and MTFP).

 

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;

Decision status: For Determination

Division affected: (All Division);

Notice of proposed decision first published: 01/05/2024

Anticipated restriction: Part exempt  -

Decision due: Not before 30th May 2024 by Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services
Reason: To allow 28 day notice period required under Exeuctive Decision regulations

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services

Lead director: Stephanie Holt-Castle

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: Belinda Hooker, Acting Head of Coroner Service Email: belinda.hooker@kent.gov.uk.

Consultees

The proposed decision was considered and endorsed by Members of the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee at their meeting on 14 May.

Financial implications: Without a contract renewal in place, there is a risk NHS Trusts can charge spot rates for the provision of mortuary services. Subject to negotiation, it is forecast that the cost to renew the contracts is within the current funding envelope, the 24/25 budget being £1,437,600. The maximum cost of the contract over 5-years is £7,188,000. These Contracts are funded from the Community Protection (Coroners) Revenue Budget.

Legal implications: The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 places a duty on Coroners to investigate deaths that are referred to them if they have reason to think that: • The death was violent or unnatural. • The cause of death is unknown; or • The deceased died while in prison, police custody or another form of state detention e.g., where a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Order (DoLS) is in place. This decision is required to allow the KCC Coroners Service to put in place new Coroners Removals and Transfer Contracts, to allow it to meet its statutory responsibilities.

Equalities implications: An EqIA has been undertaken. A DPIA is not required.

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