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Guidance from NHSE on Linen and Laundry Services
14 October 2022

With trusts likely to be experiencing pressures within linen and laundry services and suppliers having highlighted significant cost pressures, NHS England (NHSE) has issued guidance on procurement of these services as well as recommendations for actions trusts can take around rising charges.

NHSE Recommended Actions Re Cost Increases

According to the latest figures from the Textile Services Cost Index, costs for laundry and linen services rose by 23% year on year (to 30 June 2022), making an increase over the last three years of 25%.  TSCI-LCI_Q1_2022-2023-Apr-May-Jun-22.pdf (tsa-uk.org).

Because of the specialist nature of linen and laundry services, the extraordinary cost pressures and the need to safeguard supply, NHSE recommends these actions for trusts to:

  • review the cost pressures identified by suppliers and consider how this is reflected within any existing contractual terms relevant to uplifts
  • consider what scope there is to provide additional support. This is at the discretion of trusts, where this may be justified and not covered within standard contract uplifts on the basis of extraordinary cost pressures being experienced and a sharing of risk and reward
  • clearly document in their contracts any such agreed support on a short-term basis, reviewing it every 6 months with open book information being provided by suppliers.

Trusts must make sure any additional support agreed does not lead to a breach of applicable legal and contractual frameworks, such as procurement regulations or other contractual terms – trust estates and facilities teams should work closely with their procurement teams on this issue.

Linen Loss

NHSE reiterates the message to trusts about keeping tight control of linen stock, where possible. Suppliers continue to raise linen loss as an area of pressure.

NHSE Linen and Laundry Procurement Advice

For trusts that are out of contract or need to retender soon, the advice from NHSE is ‘to ensure they have contracts in place in compliance with procurement regulations. For example, extensions beyond the tendered contract period place trusts at additional risk, such as service delivery and costs, as well as possible legal challenges from suppliers.’

Trusts are advised to review the requirements for new contracts: The Sourcing Playbook – May 2021 (publishing.service.gov.uk).

NHSE suggests linen and laundry procurement contracts best practices include:

  • appropriate and clear written specifications and performance measures
  • robust, well-structured KPIs, relevant and proportionate to size and complexity of contract
  • considering pre-market engagement to test that suppliers can deliver the required services at an affordable cost
  • evaluating supplier quality should include using objective criteria that are relevant to the service requirement, applying weightings according to the importance of the criteria and scoring that promotes effective differentiation. Evaluation should not be solely based upon price and should include a minimum 10% weighting for social value in line with PPN 06/20. Bidders should also include Carbon Reduction Plans in line with PPN 06/21 as part of their tender submissions.
  • ensuring risks sit with the party best able to manage them
  • including standard clauses dealing with resolution planning in draft contracts
  • considering protections to be incorporated when planning a procurement
  • asking suppliers to provide a supply chain map as part of your supply chain assurance - to illustrate their sub-contractors - as well as a business continuity plan and exit plan in their tender submission
  • ensuring suppliers have sufficient time to develop and price solutions, raise clarifications and respond to tender documentation.

In-House Laundries

NHSE should be notified if trusts are planning to cease operation of in-house laundries, before finalising any plans for closure. Contact england.estatesandfacilities@nhs.net, marked for the attention of the Capital and Commercial Team.

We’re here to help where we can

As ever, the Hub’s Estates & Digital team is keeping abreast of the challenges and complexities of the linen and laundry market and is working closely with member trusts to offer support where we can.  If you have any linen and laundry services matters you’d like to discuss, please contact us: simon.norden@eoecph.nhs.uk.