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Editor’s blog Tuesday 10 August 2010: Commissioning landscape shifts, as NHS Northants ends UnitedHealth FESC contract early

The excellent E-Health Insider website reveals that NHS Northamptonshire has ended its contract for commissioning support with UnitedHealth UK a year early, after two years.

The UnitedHealth UK contract was reported by NHS Nothamptonshire CE John Parkes to be the biggest commissioning support contract let under the DH Framework For Procuring External Support In Commissioning (FESC).

Parkes' statement to E-Health Insider adds, “The NHS landscape has changed significantly since the deal first began, PCT priorities have shifted and as a result both parties agreed to conclude the project in July ... UnitedHealth have had a significant impact in the organisation’s improvement as a first class commissioner and I’d look forward to working with them again”.

The story reveals that UnitedHealth UK's evidence to the Commons heath select committee's inquiry into commissioning disclosed that some of UnitedHealth UK's commissioning contracts involve United assuming some financial risk as regards delivery, although it does not make clear whether this has been the case in NHS Northants.

The commissioning market ahead could be keenly contested, although the number of GP commissioning consortia will shape compeittion just as significantly as will the Coalition government's proposal for plans to evaluate external providers of commissioning support, to ensure value for money.

We are in Donald Rumsfeld's "known unknowns" territory here.