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Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

The Integrated Community Equipment Loan Service (ICELS) provides, by way of loan, equipment to adults and children living in their own home to support them to maintain or increase their independence and support careers in their roles. Examples of community equipment include:

  • Toileting – commodes, shower seats, raised toilet seats
  • Mobility Equipment - mobile or fixed hoists, lifting aids and moving and handling equipment
  • Walking – walking frames, sticks, etc.
  • Beds/Cots – specialised beds and cots, mattresses and sleep aids
  • Seating – standard and specialised chairs and seating
  • Medical/Surgical – disposable medical and surgical support equipment

Equipment can be provided to support an urgent and non-urgent hospital discharge or be provided following an assessment of need for someone in the community. Equipment is also provided to support children in school environments

Essex County Council have recently established a new contract for the provision of the equipment, with Medequip Assistive Technology, which commences on 1st July 2023, and this includes the delivery, collection, cleaning, maintenance/testing and refurbishment of the equipment. This service is provided across ECC Adult Social Care, Family Ops and Education and through a number of Essex-based Health and Local Authority partners.

Market Rating

Having undertaken some recent market engagement it is clear that there are a number of high quality and motivated providers in the market. The Council anticipates that demand for the service will remain high as more people are supported to live in their own homes. It is thought that staffing of the equipment service is not likely to be as challenging as homecare or residential care. The markets for both the manufacture and distribution of equipment are strong and mature.

Market Quality Market Supply ECC Demand
Good Good High
Market Quality = Good Market Supply = Good
ECC Ambition Market Workforce Market Maturity
Increase Supply Good Evolving
ECC Ambition = Increase Supply Market Maturity = Mature

ECC rating of the market, assessed on the 31st March 2023

The past contract for the provision of community equipment was established with ECL, as our Local Authority Trading Company, in March 2020. This contract was due to expire in March 2023, but this was extended to the end of June 2023, to facilitate the tender and mobilisation processes for the new Integrated Community Equipment Loan Service (ICELS) from July 2023 onwards.

The out-going contract provides for the management of assessed and prescribed care equipment, from simple static aids to complex bed and hoist requirements. The service includes delivery, collection, repair, maintenance, recycling, and refurbishment of all equipment ranges.  The new contract will see a similar range of delivery, collection and cleaning service, with an updated service specification aimed at delivering value-for-money for the next five year.

Currently, ECL do not manage the sourcing of the equipment, with 80-85% of supply managed by the Community Equipment Service (CES), hosted as an Integrated Procurement Hub (IPH) by Croydon Council. ECC are one of 20 partners to this supply arrangement, with ECC accounting for ≈20% of the IPH spend. The new contract will see all sourcing conducted by the contract holder, with no involvement of third-party sourcing routes.

Essex Market

Total Spend

£16.4m per annum*

No. Providers


No. Adults per month


No. Items per month


No. Standard Items in Catalogue


Core Service Partners



The information shown in the table above is correct as of 31st March 2023

* It is anticipated that these figures will be subject to significant change over the next 12-24 months

ECC have benefitted from a good working relationship, based on shared priorities and a person-centred approach to this equipment service, with ECL. The ongoing supply and cost pressures demanded that the efficiencies of the service needed to be optimised, and ECC and its NHS/CCG partners completed a structured examination of the current arrangements and market options in order to pursue a best-practice solution to this requirement.

It was agreed, with partners and via governance with key stakeholders, that a thorough market test of the equipment service was required in order to demonstrate that best practice can continue to be pursued and optimal value-for-money achieved.

With market engagement, conducted in November/December 2021 and a full tender process between November 2022 and February 2023, ECC have established a new service specification with Medequip Assistive Technology for the delivery of the service from July 2023.

There are now very limited COVID risks and impacts, with the availability of staff within the equipment service no longer affected.

COVID-19 outbreaks continue to affect some elements of the supply chains in East Asia, by reducing workforce, limiting throughput at the ports and creating an adverse supply-and-demand situation, but no noticeable impact on the overall availability of equipment, both domestically and internationally is being reported.

Current market risks:

  • The continuation, and subsequent de-mobilisation of the current ECL equipment needs robust management on all sides.
  • Supply risks for products manufactured in, or sourced from, China, due to Covid impacts and raw material shortages remain a risk, but significantly reduced over the last 6 months.
  • Effective transfer of service from Essex Cares Limited to new service provider, to prevent delays caused by the handover of service, data and equipment.
  • Risks of delayed hospital discharges or community referrals due to lack of suitable equipment to support discharge and recovery.
  • Risks of failure of UK equipment service market, preventing ECC from effectively market testing future equipment contracts.
  • Our current area of focus is:

    • Demobilisation of current contracts with ECL and IPH for the provision of service up to the end of June 2023.
    • Mobilisation of new contract, which includes multiple workstreams.
    • Mobilisation of and operational bedding in new service provider for provision of service from 1st July 2023.
    • Sourcing by key specification, not proprietary product, in order to reduce costs, improve responsiveness and mitigate reliance on specific product ranges.
    • ngagement with other health partners and local government organisations to determine current solutions and pursuing best practice with future equipment services.
Last updated: 31/05/2023