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 autonomy. Examples of community equipment include:

  • Toileting – commodes, shower seats, raised toilet seats
  • Mobility Equipment - mobile or fixed hoists, lifting aids and slide-sheets
  • Beds/Cots – specialised beds and cots, mattresses and sleep aids
  • Seating – standard and specialised chairs and seating
  • Specialised/Customer Equipment – for specialised health support
  • 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 commenced on 1st July 2023, which includes the delivery, collection, cleaning, and refurbishment of the equipment, or the effective disposal of equipment that can be recovered/refurbished.

This service is provided across ECC Adult Social Care and through a number of Essex-based Health and Local Authority partners.

Market Rating

Having recently conducted a tender process for a new contract for the equipment service, 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 the staffing of the equipment service for the next five years will not represent a significant challenge. The markets for both the manufacturing 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 22nd July 2023.

The previous contract for the provision of community equipment held by Essex Cares Limited expired on 30th June 2023.  A new contract, awarded following a comprehensive tender process, has been established with Medequip Assistive Technology Limited, with service delivery from 1st July 2023 onwards.

The commencement of the new contract involved the transfer (in line with TUPE Regulations) of the majority of the workforce from the previous provider, together with large amounts of the residual stock held at the expiry of the contract.  At the point of transfer, more than 3,000 outstanding collection, delivery and service orders were transferred to the new provider.   

The new/current contract addresses both the sourcing and supply of community equipment, with these elements previously split across two separate contracts.  

Essex Market  
Total Spend £18 Million
No. Providers 1
No. Adults/Children per month 5097
No. Items per month 8051
No. Standard Items in Catalogue 358
Core NHS and LA Service Partners EPUT, MSE, Thurrock Council, ESNEFT

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of 30th September 2023

ECC had benefitted from a good working relationship with the previous provider. The ongoing supply and cost pressures demanded that the efficiencies of the service needed to be maximised, and the partners completed a structured examination of the past arrangements and market options in order to pursue a best-practice solution to this requirement.  This resulted in a thorough market test of the equipment service in order to demonstrate that best practice can continue to be pursued and optimal value-for-money achieved.

This resulted in the award of a new five-year contract 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 have affected some elements of the supply chains in East Asia, by 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:

  • 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 mobilisation of the new equipment service with Medequip, with associated process and culture changes across the partners.
  • 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:

  • Mobilisation of current contract with Medequip Assistive Technology.
  • Sourcing by key specification, not proprietary product, in order to reduce costs, improve responsiveness and mitigate reliance on specific product ranges.
  • Engagement with other health partners and local government organisations to determine current solutions and pursuing best practice with future equipment services, including alignment of working practices and development of future practices.


Last updated: 30/09/2023