Awarded to Equal Experts UK Limited

Start date: Monday 18 October 2021
Value: £110,900
Company size: large
Department of Health and Social Care

DHSC – Weight Management Services - Discovery Phase

10 Incomplete applications

8 SME, 2 large

22 Completed applications

17 SME, 5 large

Important dates

Monday 16 August 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 23 August 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 30 August 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Contracted out service: the off-payroll rules do not apply
Summary of the work
DHSC discovery to understand of the experiences of people living with obesity in accessing weight management services and identify digital solutions to improve those experiences. Outcomes will include: identifying problems in accessing weight management services through user research; gathering insights into user experiences; defining low-fidelity user-centred alpha candidates
Latest start date
Monday 11 October 2021
Expected contract length
2 Months
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department of Health and Social Care
Budget range
Maximum of £150,000 for the discovery

About the work

Why the work is being done
We are looking to commission a supplier to identify problems in accessing weight management services through user focused research and outline potential user-centred alpha candidates which DHSC could commission. We expect the supplier to gather insights into user experiences that will inform future funding decisions for digital transformation of the weight management services at a national level and could be used by partner organisations including NHS England and Improvement and Public Health England.

The principal aim of the project is to deepen our understanding of the experiences of people living with obesity and overweight in accessing weight management services throughout the pathway. The primary focus of the project being publicly-funded tier 2 services, with a view on how tier 1 drives access to tier 2, and a broader look at tier 3 and 4 where relevant to tier 2.

The secondary aim of the project is to identify opportunities to improve the experience of accessing weight management services which will increase uptake.

The final aim of the project is to produce low-fidelity ideas and opportunities which could solve the problems identified through the discovery research, and define potential user-centred candidates which could be explored in an alpha phase.
Problem to be solved
The objectives for the research are to:
-Understand how people living with overweight and obesity identify and approach their weight problem
-Understand what people living with overweight and obesity know about WMS
-Understand the reasons why people living with overweight and obesity access services and don't access services
-Understand the user journey of accessing tier 2 WMS
-Identify opportunities to improve access to WMS and recommend areas to focus for the alpha stage including basic low-fidelity designs for prototypes of potential solutions and/or technical drawings to outline what would be required.

The Provider is required to deliver:
Service requirement 1 - DISCOVERY MANAGEMENT

This should include:
-Developing and finalising the research plan
-Developing and finalising the design of the discovery delivery plan;
-Agreeing achievable key performance indicators and milestones;
-Testing the user journey (this should build on existing user research and reports underpinning to be provided by DHSC);
-Ensuing that the discovery meets the Government Service Standard and Technology Code of Practice;
-Relationship building and management with stakeholders required to deliver the project.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a government official I need to ensure that access to NHS and local authority weight management services is improved alongside increases in service capacity driven by increased funding. This will support our target of enabling up to 700,000 adults to have access to support that can help them to lose weight in 2020/2021.

As a health care professional I need to understand what services are available to my patients locally and nationally, which services are appropriate to their needs, and how they may access them so that I can refer my patients into services.

As a weight management service provider I need to know how best to provide access to increase the number of people attending my service.

As an individual living with overweight or obesity I need to understand what weight management services are available to me, how different services relate/link to one-another, and how I may access them so that I can achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
More detailed background information will be provided to shortlisted suppliers to inform the written proposal
Existing team
The team is led by Policy officials from DHSC and supported by NHSX digital specialists
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The supplier can work remotely, with (if possible) occasional meetings held on site, either in Leeds or London.

However, there may also be a requirement to run user research workshops, either virtually or physically. These would be arranged with users by the supplier.
Working arrangements
Milestone meetings with the supplier will be held at least fortnightly, although the nature of the project means that contact will be more frequent through stakeholder meetings and workshops etc.

We are looking to work according to the Agile principles as documented in the Government & NHS Digital service manuals. We will expect the chosen supplier to perform and provide evidence of such practices in operation.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
1. All outputs will be owned by DHSC and published openly where appropriate using a suitable open license that supports reuse (e.g. MIT and OGL).

2. All materials/outputs derived from the contract shall be the property of DHSC.

3. GDPR requirements will be discussed and agreed once the successful supplier has been notified (as part of discussions to agree the wording of the call-off contract).

4. No expenses will be agreed beyond the value of the contract.

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
  • Be experienced in GDS user needs and user research
  • Have strong quantitative and qualitative user research experience.
  • Be experienced in business process mapping skills.
  • Be experienced in developing a variety of user journeys
  • Lead a process to develop the vision, scope and roadmap.
  • Have strong stakeholder management skills and experience.
  • Experience of participant recruitment and carrying out contextual research
  • Experience of developing Alpha prototypes
  • Experience of working in public health (or related) projects
  • Experience of working with Local Government or the NHS
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Work collaboratively, sharing knowledge and experience
  • Provide evidence of leading in project governance and delivery.
  • Provide evidence of building relationships quickly.
  • Experience of working with clinical research
  • Experience of engaging and working with vulnerable and disadvantaged groups
  • Experience of obesity policy

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Discovery approach and methodology.
  • How the approach would meet our requirements.
  • Estimated timeframes including milestones
  • Identified risks and dependencies, with mitigations
  • Team structure, details of the personnel to be involved including their role for this project and their relevant experience
  • Value for money
  • A clear research plan that demonstrates how they will conduct the discovery research
  • A clear narrative explaining you will then collate initial findings to produce service maps, personas, and reports that will inform low fidelity alpha ideas.
  • Approach to producing low fidelity ideas that could be explored in subsequent alphas
Cultural fit criteria
  • Transparency and collaboration in working practices
  • Ability to share knowledge and experience and communicate recommendations with non-technical groups
  • Ability to show data evidence for insights and recommendations
  • Be comfortable in advocating for agile practices, user centred and inclusive design
  • Ability to align with DHSC values
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions.
  • Provide details of how you propose to deliver social value specific to this contract; please support your response with relevant examples as applicable.
  • Challenge the status quo.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. All materials/outputs derived from the contract shall be the property of DHSC – IPR is set out in 9.2 of the Core Terms. Please clarify how this is ‘additional to what is set out in the contract.
Its not additional, it has been restated here for the avoidance of any doubt.
2. No expenses will be agreed beyond the value of the contract – your expenses policy is set out at Annex 1 to Schedule 5 of the Contract – please clarify how this is ‘additional’ to the contract.
We are being clear on our position regarding expenses from the start so that suppliers know what to expect when we come to completing Annex 1
3. Please state how you define, calculate and evaluate ‘Value for Money’ in this context
By using the evaluation criteria to ensure that the accepted proposal provides the best outcome for the budget allocated
4. [...] explored in subsequent alphas – the GDS approach only has a single alpha phase, do you intend to run multiple projects following this Discovery each with an alpha?
We expect to run a single Alpha stage following this discovery unless the discovery outcomes dictate otherwise
5. Who is running your assessment – CDDO, NHSx or other?
6. Ability to align with DHSC values – please state where these values are defined.
"Our values and behaviours are:

Fair and inclusive – we celebrate difference and the value it brings. We create an environment where everyone can achieve their potential
Respectful and confident – we respect the people we work with while being confident in our ability to challenge, lead and hold others to account
Open and engaged – we are open to new ideas, challenge and feedback. We build trusting relationships, and are proactive and constructive in all that we do"
7. Challenge the status quo – the status quo of the department, stakeholders or users or other / all?
All mentioned, we want to engage with organisations who are enabled to challenge if there is a better or alternate way to do something, be that internally or with their customers
8. Can you please expand on what you are seeking with the ‘Experience of working with clinical research’ nice-to-have skill/experience? Are you wanting suppliers with experience of services that use or present clinical research OR experience actually producing and analysing clinical research?
We are looking for suppliers with experience of services that use or present clinical research.
9. Is there a plan and budget for development post discovery?
DHSC will consider outcomes of the discovery before committing to further work on the development of any potential products. DHSC has a budget for the delivery of any subsequent work which will be disclosed at the appropriate time.
10. Please state the weighing for each individual proposal criteria.
We have not weighted the individual criteria, the overall weightings are 70% Technical, 10% Cultural Fit and 20% Price
11. Is there an incumbent for this opportunity?
12. Can you please provide a procurement schedule for this opportunity?
16th – 30th August - Requirements published and answer suppliers questions – 2 weeks
30th – 3rd September - Shortlist – 1 week
6th – 17th September - Invite submissions – 2 weeks
20th – 24th September - Interviews/Presentations & Evaluate – 1 week
11th October - Contract start date
13. Will the deadline for submission be updated as it currently falls on a bank holiday or will it remain the same?
No, we have a short turnaround for shortlisting so the submission date will remain as it is.
14. Do you have a Clinician who is a clinical lead who will be supporting the supplier?
This project is currently being led by policy officials within DHSC, there is no clinical lead. Policy officials will provide support to the supplier
15. Will DHSC provide support in finding government officials and health care professionals to participate in discovery activities?
16. "Is the successful supplier required to undertake all recruitment of individuals living with overweight or obesity participants?
If yes… Can you provide any information about how you would like this to be done, eg. working with recruiters, paying cash/voucher incentives."
Yes the supplier is required to recruit individuals living with overweight or obesity to participate in the discovery. DHSC can provide introductions to public sector and charitable organisations which may be able to assist in the recruitment of these individuals, in addition to this it is our expectation that the supplier will work with recruiters/offering incentives as the supplier deems appropriate to ensure that target groups are reached.
17. You mention a desire for collaborative and transparent working, can you provide any more information on how involved you would like to be with the supplier throughout the project?
DHSC intends to work closely with the supplier during inception/initiation phase of the project to provide necessary introductions and any required contextual briefing. From this stage our expectation is that we will have regular update meetings with the supplier at two week intervals in order to monitor progress against the project objectives. DHSC officials will be available to discuss the project with the supplier as required.
18. Can you provide information on the members of the DHSC team who will be involved with the project (for example, participating in the milestone meetings)?
A senior policy advisor on adult weight management services and team leader for the adult and child weight management team will be involved in the project.
19. "How will “levels of understanding” be evaluated when looking to “deepen our understanding of the experiences of people living with obesity”?
How is the current level assessed in order to measure the success of improvement?"
DHSC does not currently possess any formal research or evidence on the experience of users in accessing weight management services. We would appreciate suggestions from suppliers on areas for consideration during the discovery based on their experience of user research and service design.
20. In regards to the secondary aim, would there be access to existing users who are already using existing NHS digital platforms for weight management?
To be confirmed following shortlisting