Awarded to PA Consulting Services Limited (UK)

Start date: Monday 1 June 2020
Value: £1,000,000
Company size: large
Public Health England (PHE)

Unified Infection Dataset (UID) Systems Development

18 Incomplete applications

14 SME, 4 large

27 Completed applications

17 SME, 10 large

Important dates

Friday 14 February 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 21 February 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 28 February 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
To perform Discovery, and subject to agreement, Alpha, Beta and Live phases of the development of a system capable of undertaking the automated linkage of several health surveillance 'Big Data' systems held by PHE.
Latest start date
Wednesday 1 April 2020
Expected contract length
18 months (Total duration of all phases of project); Discovery duration: up to 12 weeks
Organisation the work is for
Public Health England (PHE)
Budget range
Up to £1,000,000 (excluding VAT) for all phases (Discovery to Live)
Up to £75,000 (excluding VAT) for Discovery phase

About the work

Why the work is being done
There is no single national dataset that gathers data on all clinically-significant infections with their corresponding antimicrobial susceptibilities, healthcare pre-exposure and clinical correlates. Creating a link between national microbiological and clinical datasets will establish a Unified Infection Dataset (UID). The UID will assist PHE strategies in executing its health protection function, including the investigation of incidents and outbreaks, and monitoring antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The epidemiological intelligence will allow us to identify potential targeted interventions and to assist in prioritising clinical and public health resources by monitoring long-term trends and assessing the impact of any outbreak or incident.
Problem to be solved
Large surveillance datasets are stored separately by PHE on multiple servers and are not routinely linked. We cannot duplicate the stored data; therefore, we wish to create a virtual environment whereby we can perform linkage dynamically on an ad hoc basis and/or routinely, subject to end-user queries. The system will perform standard analysis of the linked data at a patient level. Information Governance must comply with strict organisational standards. An API will need to be developed to allow external users to access the data in the future.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Internal PHE scientific staff:

• Users need to be able to query the system routinely or ad hoc
• Users will have the ability to customise and save queries, or to use pre-prepared data views
• Patient level and aggregate data will be extracted for surveillance and research purposes
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
An internal proof-of-concept phase is being conducted to explore system and performance parameters, to determine end-user needs (Use Cases) and to define the functional and non-functional requirements of the UID.
Existing team
The successful supplier will be working mainly with the project team, comprising: Project Manager, Epidemiological Lead, Project Support Officer, Data Architect. The project has senior staff oversight and an Advisory Group of senior internal and external stakeholders.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The work can be performed from any location and will be coordinated by staff based at PHE’s Colindale (London NW9) site.
Working arrangements
Work may be carried out from multiple locations, including the Supplier’s offices. Attendance at PHE Offices in London may be required for meetings. Supplier staff are expected to be on-site at PHE locations often enough to manage relationships with the project team, end-users and stakeholders from other organisations.
Security clearance
Not required

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Recent (within 3 years) and demonstrable experience of conducting the discovery phase relating to the use of digital solutions and technology, using data from large databases.
  • Recent (within 3 years) and demonstrable experience of designing and implementing systems that perform data linkage between
  • Recent (within 3 years) and demonstrable experience of applying the principles of user-centred design to the development of digital solutions for a range of users.
  • Recent (within 3 years) and demonstrable experience of designing systems to manage personally identifying information under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
  • Recent (within 3 years) and demonstrable experience of designing systems able to work with high performance cluster computing.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Recent (within 3 years) experience of working with public sector organisations, particularly relating to public health and/or health care.
  • Recent (within 3 years) experience of working with a range of users and stakeholders including scientific experts, technical and digital development team.
  • Recent (within 3 years) experience of working with interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary project teams including clinical and scientific project members.
  • Recent (within 3 years) experience of exploring system architecture, hardware platform and open source software options to meet performance and scalability requirements.
  • Recent (within 3 years) experience of advanced methods for data linkage such as machine learning.
  • Recent (within 3 years) experience of working in a Linux environment.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Proposed approach to conducting the Discovery phase of a public health big data linkage project including working within the constraints of existing organisational services and technologies. (max score 15)
  • Proposed approach to applying the principles of user-centred design/user insights to assess the needs of scientific users for all phases of the project (max score 15)
  • Proposed approach to working with information governance and system performance requirements for all phases of the project. (max score 15)
  • Proposed approach to conducting the Alpha, Beta and Live phases including open source solutions for linking and handling large volumes of data (max score 15)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Working with the project team and stakeholders who have varying experience of Agile methods (max score 4)
  • Flexible working arrangements and knowledge sharing (max score 4)
  • Transparent and collaborative approach when making decisions (max score 4)
  • Demonstrating approach to knowledge transfer throughout the duration of the project (max score 4)
  • Examples of previous experience of working with UK Government, local authorities or large organisations with a range of different stakeholders (max score 4)
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Clarification to Essential Skills and Experience (E2);
The statement should read:

Recent (within 3 years) and demonstrable experience of designing and implementing systems that perform data linkage between "Big Data" sources and working on data science projects.
2. Is there a current incumbent?
3. In the “Problem to be solved” section it is stated that “We cannot duplicate the stored data”. Is this the case due to practicality (eg. size of datasets) or is it a question of information security?
Storing exact duplicates of the various data sources will present issues with scalability because of the size of the datasets and storage constraints. However, we are open to discussions with suppliers as to how best to model the dataset to minimise this problem. Data must remain on internal servers for information security reasons, and access to data will be restricted to authorised individuals.
4. Is this procurement (evaluation criteria, contract) structured such that a supplier who delivers a successful Discovery will be able to proceed direct to the rest of the 18 month project? Or, regardless of the success of the Discovery, will PHE come back to the market for subsequent phases?
It is the intention of PHE to use the successful supplier for all phases of the project after Discovery subject to the success of each phase, internal approvals/assessments and agreement between the supplier and PHE. At this time there is no plan to come back to market to procure subsequent phases after Discovery.
5. One question refers to “clinical and scientific” project members. What sort of scientists work for PHE and how important is it that we have worked specifically with those types of scientist?
PHE employ a wide range of scientists and clinical staff. This question is not asking suppliers for experience of working with specific types of scientist, it is asking suppliers for experience of working with groups of cross-disciplinary users and stakeholders of which scientific and clinical staff will be a part.
6. Please can you share a procurement timetable outlining steps (which would typically include evidence response evaluation, shortlisting of suppliers for next stage, preparation of supplier proposals, evaluation of supplier proposals, announcement of successful supplier, contract completion, contract signatures, commence work), bearing in mind the dates published on the contract notice: evidence submission on 28th Feb and commencing work on 1st Apr?
We plan to send the Request for Proposal to shortlisted suppliers on 6th March 2020, at which time the subsequent procurement timetable will be provided.
7. What roles are you expecting suppliers to provide? In addition, are you expecting all roles to have the ability to be full time?
Suppliers are free to provide whichever roles are necessary to complete the phases of the project to the agreed deadlines. PHE has an internal team of staff allocated full-time to the project comprising a project manager, project support officer, data architect, and epidemiological/scientific lead.
8. In order to compare suppliers like for like, how will price be evaluated: will you be evaluating by the total price, rate card or both? How do you ensure that you are completing a genuine value for money comparison rather than just a rate card comparison?
Full information on what suppliers should submit for price and how scores for price will be calculated and evaluated will be included in the Request for Proposal to shortlisted suppliers.
9. Will the scores from the evidencing round be taken through to final evaluation? Or will they only be used for the purposes of shortlisting suppliers?
No. They will only be used for the purposes of shortlisting.
10. Will your Product Owner be allocated full time to this project?
There is an internal team of staff allocated full-time to the project comprising a project manager, project support officer, data architect, and epidemiological/scientific lead.
11. Are you able to recruit and provide access to users for the purpose of user research?
12. Do you have any preference between public sector or private sector examples? Or will both be treated equally as long as they are relevant to the question?
No. Other than the first Nice-to-Have question, which specifically asks for experience of working with public sector organisations, it is up to the supplier to decide which examples best answer the questions and demonstrate the relevant experience.
13. Is it permissible to provide more than one example where required to fully address a question?
Yes. The number of examples used to answer a question is up to the supplier.
14. To what extent (if at all) will the delivery of this engagement be aligned to the GDS Service Manual and associated GDS assessments?
Internal service assessments will be conducted following GDS principles, with the exception of those elements that apply exclusively to public-facing services.
15. Suppliers will be asked for a written proposal. Will this be the short listed suppliers and at this point is all that is required is answers to the questions set out in the application confirming our experience.
Yes to both questions. At this stage suppliers should supply answers for the Essential Skills and Experience and Nice-to-Have Skills and Experience. The written proposal and other assessment methods in the "How Suppliers will be evaluated" section are only relevant to shortlisted suppliers.
16. When referring to 'discovery to live' as a project timeline, what expectation is there on suppliers to provide services to the live platform, i.e. support, hosting etc.?
This information will be provided to shortlisted suppliers in the Request for Proposal.
17. Is it possible to know more detail around the outcomes of the proof of concept? If the POC is yet to be completed and/or finalised are there any intermediate findings that could be shared?
PoC has tested several methods to link subsets of the data, but these have not yet been applied to the full-size datasets.
18. In what format(s) are the datasets and what size are they? (please provide a range if this varies significantly between each dataset)
The numbers of new records added each year to the main databases are approximately 50M (infection episodes), 20M (hospital episodes), 500M (prescriptions) and 0.5M (death notices).
19. What type of storage are the datasets on? i.e. Object store, databases, Excel, flat files, etc.?
All datasets are in MS SQL Server database file format.
20. Is the solution meant to be deployed on-premise, or would it possible to deploy on a public cloud provider like AWS, GCP, Azure?
Initial deployment will be on PHE premises to meet current Information Governance (IG) requirements. Deployment on external services has not been explored. This would require future IG clearance and can be explored in Discovery.