The Queen’s Speech took place Tuesday 10 May at the Houses of Parliament, setting out the Government’s new legislative agenda for the upcoming period. Queen Elizabeth was unfortunately unable to deliver the speech to MPs and Lords this year due to mobility issues. Instead, Prince Charles represented the Queen, outlining the Government’s plans and priorities.
A total of 38 legislative Bills or draft Bills are to be worked on during this new Government session. These includes pieces on the Levelling Up agenda, energy security, railways, Brexit freedoms and international trading. With the Health and Care Bill having been granted Royal Assent just before the close of Parliament at the end of April, there are no significant healthcare legislative pieces affecting the IVD sector. Some healthcare Bills are being passed through stages in relation to social care.
One Bill of relevance is the ‘Procurement Bill’, which enshrines into law the benefits and objectives of public procurement. Among these are the maximisation of public benefit, equal treatment of suppliers, delivering value for money. As a result of the Bill, public authorities, including the NHS, will have to publish notices of direct awards, while publication requirements will be extended to cover planning, termination, and contract performance. The Government has said that it is endeavouring to ensure “transparency throughout the commercial lifecycle so that the spending of taxpayers’ money can be properly scrutinised”. The Bill will lead to a more UK-directed approach to public procurement strategy.
The Bill calls for a single digital platform to be created for suppliers to register their details. “The supplier registration system will retain the majority of information required for a procurement, however a contracting authority will have the discretion to request further information, if required for the specific procurement.” There will also be a debarment register; a list of suppliers who should be excluded from contracts.
Authorities are to be given six months-notice of any changes made through the Bill’s passages. There is no confirmed legislative schedule for its journey through the Houses of Parliament. BIVDA’s policy team will be closely monitoring any amendments made to the Bill over the coming Government session and will provide member companies with advice and briefing materials on the Bill’s implications for NHS IVD procurement.