This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Friday 19 June 2020
NHS Digital

prj_4427 - COVID-19 Testing Service Development, Delivery and Run

13 Incomplete applications

8 SME, 5 large

23 Completed applications

12 SME, 11 large

Important dates

Friday 5 June 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 12 June 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 19 June 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
NHS Digital is responsible for delivering the digital elements of the COVID-19 Testing Service. This service is already live (in Alpha phase) and NHS Digital requires a supplier to perform the development, delivery and running of this service going forwards.
Latest start date
Monday 10 August 2020
Expected contract length
Up to 24 months.
Yorkshire and the Humber
Organisation the work is for
NHS Digital
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
NHS Digital is responsible for delivering the digital elements of the COVID-19 Testing Service. This service is already live (in Alpha phase) and NHS Digital needs a supplier to perform the development and delivery of this service going forwards. This Call Off Contract will also include scope for any urgent additional COVID-19 related digital outcomes. The supplier needs to be on-boarded by mid-August 2020. The overall term of this contract is expected to be up to 24 months, but this will depend on how the current COVID-19 pandemic pans out.

We expect there to be significant development and delivery work within the first 3 months of this contract, but after that we may not need to issue any further Statements of Work. This will depend on what happens with COVID-19 in the UK.

The Buyer retains the right to withdraw this requirement at any stage of the Call-off Competition process.
Problem to be solved
The digital elements of the Testing Service require further development to meet the ongoing emerging demands and to ensure this service is accessible, automated, and successfully scaled. It is expected the service will support the distribution of up to 30,000 home antigen test kits each day (currently the service supports approximately 15,000 kits each day, as of 20 May 2020), and the service may be expanded to support antibody testing. The day to day management of the service needs to be hardened so that service is fully resilient, scalable and automated, with effective monitoring and alerting in place.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a member of the public or an essential worker, I need a clear, simple and accessible service that allows me to order a COVID-19 test*** for myself and/or someone else in my household so that I/we/they can check if I/we/they have COVID-19 and therefore take appropriate action (i.e. follow government guidelines by either self-isolating or returning to work).

***either an antigen test or potentially an antibody test.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The Testing Service was originally created for essential workers only; it went live to essential workers in April 2020. It was expanded to include those aged 65 or over with symptoms, or those who needed to drive to work with symptoms, or those with a clinical referral from NHS 111 Online. The service was opened to the general public on 18 May 2020. To date (5 June 2020), this service supports and underpins critical aspects of the testing capacity per day and continues to expand its capability.
Existing team
The Testing Service team is comprised of multiple organisations and suppliers:

NHS Digital: responsible for the digital elements of the Testing Service supported by a number of digital suppliers. Some of the main suppliers are: Kainos, TheServerLabs, Difrent, AWS, Deloitte Digital.

NHSX: led the initial design, development and build of the home service.

Amazon Logistics.

Validation Suppliers (not named).
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
NHS Digital
8th Floor
Bridgewater Place
Water Lane
LS11 5BZ

Due to COVID-19 this work will take place remotely for the foreseeable future. Remote working will also be acceptable once the UK government has relaxed the current COVID-19 guidance and office working is allowed. The supplier does not need to be present at an NHS Digital site to successfully perform this work.
Working arrangements
The supplier will be required to:

Work remotely due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Work within an ecosystem of suppliers and all stakeholders involved in the team.

Plan, manage and deliver the development of the Testing Service.
NHS Digital will provide the strategic direction for this service, but the supplier will be responsible for managing the development work associated with this. The supplier will use their own Product and Delivery Managers to own/manage this work.

Provide full delivery support for the day to day operational running of the service, which will include automating the service as much as possible.
Security clearance
Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) checks are required for all staff working in NHS Digital.

Further security clearance may be required for staff who are involved in penetration testing for the service. This is to be confirmed.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
Draft Order Form/Call-off Terms and Conditions and the initial Statement of Work (SOW) are available at the following link:

Bravo reference: pre_219 - COVID-19 Testing Service Development, Delivery and Run.

To view the above you must be registered on NHS Digital's e-tendering portal. Suppliers not registered please register using the link above.

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
  • Demonstrable capability of developing, delivering, and running multiple high volume digital products and services in a highly complex and changing environment.
  • Demonstrable evidence in bespoke enterprise scale software development in AWS, using web-based technologies such as CloudFormation, CloudWatch, API Gateway, Lambda, DynamoDB, S3, etc.
  • Demonstrable evidence in infrastructure as code using AWS CloudFormation and web operations for the design, setup and running of large enterprise scale browser based, RESTful micro-services.
  • Demonstrable evidence of providing 24/7 level 2 service support to mission critical services and systems.
  • Demonstrable evidence in bespoke web application development following a Government Digital Service (GOV.UK) styled React implementation and experience of User Research and UX Design Services.
  • Demonstrable experience in successfully working in a multi-discipline, multi-vendor team environment, managing cross stream dependencies, and planning with agile teams to articulate detailed delivery plans e.g. in 1/3/6 month blocks.
  • Demonstrable evidence of experience in exploratory testing and test automation services.
  • Demonstrable evidence of ability to run agile teams remotely and collaboratively and manage geographically dispersed teams.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrable capability of successfully developing, delivering, and running digital products and services within the healthcare sector.
  • Demonstrable evidence of implementing digital products and services on Government platforms, including GOV.UK, GOV.UK Verify and GOV.UK Notify.
  • Demonstrable capability of successfully developing digital products and services with stock keeping units (SKUs) that involve users ordering a product.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Delivery approach and capability
  • Resourcing approach and capability
  • Delivering to Government Digital Service (GDS) Service Standard
Cultural fit criteria
Delivering at pace and coping with ambiguity and change
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Where can I find more information about this procurement?
A draft Initial SOW and NHS D Supplementary Terms and conditions can be found on the portal:

TITLE: pre_219 - prj_4427 - COVID-19 Testing Service Development, Delivery and Run
2. Do I need to submit anything formally to the NHS Digital portal at Stage 1?
No. All supplier submissions and clarification questions must be submitted to Digital Marketplace by the dates specified.

The NHS Digital Bravo portal is only used to share additional information with suppliers.
3. Please can you advise an indicative sized team / roles you expect here to support this opportunity?
This procurement is for a supplier to join the COVID-19 testing ecosystem comprised of multiple suppliers and delivery partners. We expect the team to comprise a small core cross functional product team with 2 small agile development teams with the ability to support 24/7 on call (approximately 15-20 FTEs in total). Given the nature of the work this requirement may grow/flex as necessary.
4. Please can you advise an indicative budget range for this opportunity?
This procurement is for a supplier to join the COVID-19 testing ecosystem comprised of multiple suppliers and delivery partners. We expect a total contract value of up to £7m over the course of the 2 year contract. Given the nature of the work this requirement may grow/flex as necessary.
5. We are trying to locate the statement of works documents which are referenced on the DOS advert but nothing seems to be accessible. Please advise.
Documents can be sourced via the NHS Digital Procurement Portal, Bravo:

Suppliers need to first register by creating an account. Documentation can then be viewed by viewing the information about opportunity pre_219 - prj_4427 - COVID-19 Testing Service Development, Delivery and Run.
6. What is the current tech stack of the alpha?
The tech stack is deployed in AWS using CloudFormation for automated deployment. The stack consists of AWS services: S3, Lambda, DynamoDB, SecretsManager, CloudFront, WAF, CloudWatch, API Gateway and SQS. The UI is a GDS styled React service hosted on There are external integrations with reCAPTCHA, GovNotify, Slack and TransUnion.
7. Can out of hours support be delivered from offshore locations. E.g. From continental Europe, India or China..?
8. Are you able to confirm the transition costs wont be included as part of this competition when evaluating prices?
The Stage 2 price evaluation will be based on the total cost of the SOW, which includes the milestone re: performing a full handover of the entire development, delivery and running capability of the testing journey from the existing suppliers. We expect this handover to be a short, time-bound piece of work (approximately 5 days). The chosen supplier will only be required to cover their own costs during this transition; they would not be required to cover any costs from the existing supplier.
9. Will NHS Digital be acceptable to a delivery model that includes sub-contractors? E.g. a large IT Supplier (Prime) jointly bidding with smaller vendors (SMEs).
10. How will NHS Digital ensure that existing suppliers don't have a competitive advantage? Will an 'ethical wall' be in place between those delivering current services and those bidding for next phase?
This procurement is a fair and transparent tendering process and aims to appoint the supplier that provides the best fit for the skills, experience and value as set out in the digital marketplace opportunity. All responses will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria only. No additional processes are being put in place for this procurement, but none of the existing suppliers will be involved in any aspect of the NHS Digital process.
11. Can we assume that an offshore (India) or nearshore (Eastern Europe) based model will be acceptable to NHS Digital?
Yes, but the core team (other than the on call support) must be able to support and work during UK business hours.
12. Would the NHS be happy if a winning bidder worked with the existing key suppliers who have built the current operational system as subcontractors?
Yes, but each supplier should explicitly set out how they will meet the evaluation criteria and this may include the use of sub-contractors.
13. We note that clause 34.2 states that the indemnity given in respect of a breach of clause 14 (Data Protection and Disclosure) is unlimited. Market trends however show that customers are not asking for unlimited liability and indeed CCS have agreed after consultation with suppliers to future cap liability breaches. Therefore in consideration of the new position being taken by CCS can you please confirm if you are willing to discuss a separate cap for data breach liability with the down selected supplier.
No. The DOS 4 Call-off Contract has not been amended by CCS on their website.
14. Are there any issues with the resilience and scalability of the existing system, and if so can the NHS indicate what these are?
No. The service has been designed and architected with resilience and scalability in mind.
15. Which programming language(s) was used for building external integrations? Does NHSD have any preference?
The programming languages used are javascript - nodejs v12. NHS Digital develops using a number of languages, including Python.
16. Could you please confirm if the project requires Python capability?
There is no requirement at this stage of delivery to Python capability.
17. 1. Could you please share more information about the current COVID-19 Testing service in Alpha and what has been accomplished so far.
2. Are any Test Automation Tools being used currently? If so could you please share the details.
1. The Testing Service was first rolled out in April to essential workers before being expanded to include the general public. The service runs 24/7, with minor downtime for releases. Releases occur multiple times a week to continuously harden and improve the service and to meet the changing and expanding needs of the business. Examples of improvements so far include the addition of address validation, a throttling capability to manage demand, improved reporting, automation and alerting.
2. We use nightwatch.js for automated smoke testing, jmeter for automated load testing, regular junit/jest tests as part of the build process.