Awarded to Pilot Works

Start date: Wednesday 1 November 2017
Value: £80,168
Company size: SME

Healthy Start Alpha Phase

11 Incomplete applications

10 SME, 1 large

12 Completed applications

9 SME, 3 large

Important dates

Thursday 24 August 2017
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 31 August 2017 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 7 September 2017 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
DH requires a team to work with the internal service manager, product managers and service designer to deliver the alpha phase of the Healthy Start digitisation.
Latest start date
Friday 13 October 2017
Expected contract length
8 Weeks
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Budget range
£80k - £90k

About the work

Why the work is being done
For Government’s drive to make service digital by default, Ministers have asked us to move to at least a large trial of a digital by default delivery system, if not a complete move across for Healthy Start vouchers by the review point in 2017.

Summer of 2016, we ran a discovery phase to examine the feasibility of digitising the process of people applying for, receiving and spending Healthy Start vouchers. During the discovery we spoke to health professionals and parents who are eligible for Healthy Start to understand their needs. We also identified potential methods for distributing Healthy Start digitally.
Problem to be solved
The discovery phase made it clear that there are multiple opportunities to better meet user needs. These included the provision of the Healthy Start benefit via an online account, accessible via a plastic card, which would give users more control over their spending in a form that is more convenient than paper vouchers, tapping into DWP and HMRC systems to auto-enroll eligible users, and enabling users to apply online without approval from health professionals. The alpha phase would test these assumptions through a process of prototyping and more detailed technical and policy analysis.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Pregnant women on qualifying benefits and with earnings below a specified threshold, and all pregnant women aged under 18.

Parents with children under the age of four, on qualifying benefits and with earnings below a specified threshold.

Health professionals (including midwives, health visitors).

Early market engagement
1. Users really value the HS scheme
2. The scheme is not reaching all those who are eligible - particularly during pregnancy
3. Awareness relies too heavily on busy health professionals and word of mouth
4. The requirement for a health professional to sign the form adds unnecessary friction to the application process
5. The complexity of the passported benefit arrangement, and the transition arrangements within HS when the child is born, are easily misunderstood by both users and health professionals, sometimes leading to delays in receiving benefit or unexpected stoppages.
6. Requiring pregnant users to call HSIU when their baby is born to continue receiving support is counter-intuitive and inconvenient for many mothers and health professionals
7. Users want control over how they use their Healthy Start benefit value
8. Users want a reliable and stress-free interaction with retailers
9. Users experience issues with the paper vouchers and most are ready for some kind of digital solution
10. Although users often have smartphones there is evidence of degrees of digital exclusion within the HS demographic. We must make sure any solutions work for everyone.
Any work that’s already been done
A successful discovery was completed on 6th September 2016.

Please see the previous answer for more detail.
Existing team
The service manager role will be provided by the NHSBSA.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Leeds, London, Mansfield and remote locations.
Working arrangements
The team will be located across Leeds (DH), London (DH) and the NHS Business Services Authority (Mansfield), plus the contractors (location tbc) and so will make use of VC technology and will arrange in-person meetings at key points.
Security clearance

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
  • Demonstrate how you will apply your skills and expertise to...
  • Deliver digital services that meet the GDS Digital Service Standard criteria and pass GDS service assessments and how this will ensure the successful delivery of this service
  • Develop prototypes (card system, instant reimbursement) iteratively via user testing/research and how this will ensure the successful delivery of this service
  • Develop digital services using agile methodologies and how this will ensure the successful delivery of this service
  • Prioritise key content and features using metrics, analytics, and user feedback and how this will ensure the successful delivery of this service
  • Prioritise product and programme delivery using effective estimation and sizing techniques and how this will ensure the successful delivery of this service
  • Design and build services which meet user needs, follow GDS design patterns, meet accessibility standards and how this will ensure the successful delivery of this service
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate experience of successful delivery of digital services from Discovery to Live, involving retirement of legacy services
  • Have experience upskilling client staff

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach and methodology
  • Technical solution
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • Estimated timeframes to complete the work
  • Team structure (with roles and responsibilities)
  • Value for money
  • How risks and dependencies are identified and approaches to manage them
  • Approach to maintaining control, transparency and quality
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work as a team with our organisation and other suppliers
  • Transparent and collaborative when making decisions
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Please could you clarify the requirement for users to have an online account accessible via a plastic card? Is the intention that the card itself would be a payment vehicle (like a gift card or pre-paid card), or that it would be used with a card reader for account security (such as for online banking), or that it would simply display information such as the website url and an access code?
The online account is a 'nice to have' feature. The card itself would be the payment vehicle, topped up remotely every 4 weeks. Users need to be able to view their balance and be informed when a top up has been made, but how this is done is yet to be determined.
2. Please could you provide details of whether: a) you expect users to actually purchase healthy foods via their online account, or b) whether you expect users to use a pre-paid card to purchase these goods, with the online account showing the balance available, or c) whether the intention is that users would be reimbursed following eg upload of receipts to their online account?
A pre-paid card, for use across multiple retailers, topped up remotely every 4 weeks.
3. The key findings you have provided from the Discovery phase are useful, but do you have more information you can share, ideally the full output from the discovery (slides, report, etc.)
Yes, see the following link for access to the document.
4. "Demonstrate how you will apply your skills and expertise to..." This suggests that our answers would detail what we would do to ensure successful outcomes, not provide evidence of projects we have actually delivered. Can you clarify which it should be.
The answers can be supported with examples of previous work.
5. "Demonstrate how you will apply your skills and expertise to...". We are not sure what the skills and expertise that we need to apply. Can you give some guidance / context?
These are as set out in the bullet points within the Skills and Experience section of the advert, responses can be supported by examples of previous work
6. Why was there a one year gap between the Discovery and Alpha phase of the project?
The delay was due to a corporate restructure at the Department of Health, with resulting changes to personnel.
7. Would the original discovery team be available to field questions?
The original discovery team is available and able to respond to questions if required.
8. Please could you provide further details on the scope of the requirement, is it to arrive at an operation function to handle credits and debits, or wider?
Yes, the requirement is mainly for a card and payment mechanism or service, but also to include some retailer interaction. The mechanism would need to handle part payments as part of the solution.