AXREM Position Statement on Credentialing July 2020

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Credentialing Schemes add unnecessary cost and delay for Suppliers to the NHS

AXREM the UK trade association representing the interests of suppliers of diagnostic medical imaging, radiotherapy, healthcare IT and care equipment in the UK, have become aware that some NHS Trusts in England have entered into contracts with 3rd party companies to provide a credentialing and accreditation service on their behalf.  We understand that these have been positioned as “free” services to participating NHS Trusts, though these credentialing companies levy a charge to supplier organisations on a “per employee” basis.  The cost applies to each employee who may need to attend a hospital site to sell and support their solutions.  Failure to secure registration will result in the employees potentially being refused access to the site.

AXREM member companies provide medical imaging and therapy solutions, the procurement of which is typically conducted through formal procurements or accredited framework agreements. These procurement channels have included validation and confirmation that employees involved in the Sales, Support, Applications Training and Project Management have the necessary formal qualifications to meet the requirements of the tender.

So, what is the impact of these credentialing and accreditation schemes?

Supplier registration with these schemes incurs a recurring annual fee on a per employee basis. There are multiple scheme operators and supplier employees registered with one scheme are potentially still refused access should the NHS Trust they are visiting have contracted with an alternate scheme.  Furthermore, the increasing complexity of the solutions our members offer means that international specialists often visit UK hospitals to provide their expertise to NHS staff. The registration of such employees with multiple accreditation schemes is neither viable nor cost effective. 

AXREM position

Whilst offered as a free service to NHS Trusts, these schemes present additional costs within the supply chain, and ultimately the price the NHS pays for goods and services is impacted by the supplier cost base.

We believe that our members own corporate self-regulation and QA processes for screening staff are sufficient and are likely more appropriate and comprehensive than the current schemes being proposed.  In many cases, these are documented explicitly in our member companies’ responses to NHS framework and tender documentation, and within resulting contracts.  

Should there be a requirement to further improve and validate credentialing arrangements then we would advocate that such governance should be through a single national register conducted centrally and operated by a not for profit organisation endorsed by the NHS. AXREM accordingly supports the LSI register which has been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) and is run by the Academy for Healthcare Science on a not for profit basis.  We call for registrants of this scheme to be recognised and afforded appropriate access to all NHS Trust sites, regardless of what other credentialing schemes they may have already engaged.  

It is AXREM’s fear that our members’ field engineers, applications staff, project managers and product specialists may be refused entry to hospital departments to fulfil their contracted obligations to repair and support critical equipment which is used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease in patients. This may lead to delays in the diagnosis of disease, disrupting care pathways, delaying treatment for patients and negatively impacting patient care.