NCL OCVC Procurement

This website is no longer being updated, for the latest information on the North Central London OCVC suppliers please visit the NCL GP Website:

View Here

Background to the procurement

All GP practices are expected to have an online consultation and video consultation (OCVC) solution to give patients digital access to primary care. The NCL ICB currently has contracts in place for the following suppliers of OCVC services:

AccuRx, eConsult, EMIS, FootFall, PATCHS

These contracts are due to end by 31 March 2023. To ensure practices are still able to meet their contractual obligations to have an OCVC solution for patients, the NCL ICB is procuring three suppliers* from the national Digital First OCVC Framework to offer to practices.

The recommended suppliers are:

Supplier materials, and recordings of workshop sessions, are accessible using the links below, and will be regularly added to.

We are strongly encouraging and recommending that practices within a PCN all choose the same OCVC supplier to support Enhanced Access and eHub working, and to facilitate working at scale.

To make sure that any potential OCVC suppliers meet the needs of practices an OCVC Working group was established between May 2022- September 2022 to shape the procurement scope and content.

This included surveying practices regarding their OCVC experience and to share the features and functions they found most useful. 

The NHSe National Procurement hub was engaged to facilitate the procurement exercise using the national OCVC Buying Catalogue which is the recognised and quality assured framework to purchase OCVC suppliers.

The OCVC working group developed a procurement specification that contained a selection of core and desirable EPICs (features and functions), and sections on:

  • Clinical Safety
  • Change management
  • Patient engagement
  • Usability/User experience
  • Interoperability
  • Value for money

* The ICB decided that three suppliers balance practice choice and reducing variation.

Please note: This procurement was only for re-procuring Online Consultation and Video Consultation solutions in NCL. For practices that are using AccuRx for any of their other products (e.g SMS Plus, Florey Questionnaires) those contracts will be continuing. The only AccuRx products that were not included in the 3 recommended list are their Patient Triage (Online Consultation) and Video Consultation solutions.

Key Stakeholders involved in the OCVC Working Group?

Was there an OCVC working group to oversee procurement?​

Yes, there was a working group that set the scope, shape and content for the procurement. 

The working group was active between May 2022 – September 2022 ensuring that a wide range of clinical, practice, PCN and patient voices were heard. 

The NHSe National Procurement Hub (DFOCVC Buying catalogue) was engaged to carry out the procurement independently, manage the bidders and facilitate evaluation.

What was the makeup of the evaluation panel?​

The evaluation panel consisted of*:

  • Clinical representation (Appointed independently via the GPPA)
  • Clinical Safety representation
  • Primary Care Commissioning​ representation
  • Patient Voice representation
  • Financial representation
What exactly did the evaluation panel evaluate?​

The evaluation panel:​

  • Scored the in-depth tender documents supplied by the potential suppliers​ that included a specification and a comprehensive set of evaluation questions
  • Supplier demo sessions were conducted to fully demonstrate functionality
  • Evaluators attended a two-day moderation panel session chaired by the National Procurement Hub to discuss their scoring, assessments and collaboratively agree final scores

*Please see make up of the OCVC working group for the wider stakeholder group that contributed to the shape and content of the procurement

Which people/organisations are key stakeholders?​
  • NCL Chief Clinical Information Officer
  • Digital Clinical Leads (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington)
  • General Practice (Lead GPs and Practice Managers)
  • General Practice Providers Alliance (GPPA)
  • Healthwatch (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington)
  • London Medical Council (LMC)
  • NCL Digital First
  • NCL Primary Care Commissioners
  • NCL Procurement Team
  • National Procurement Hub
  • NHSE London Digital First
  • PCN Clinical Directors

1. Timeframe

When will I have to choose my new OCVC supplier?

Practices will be able to start indicating which supplier they would prefer from 11 January 2023 – End March 2023 via the OCVC Practice Choice Form.

We are asking for practices to ensure that partners, PCN colleagues and other decision makers have agreed each practice choice.

Next steps:

GP Choices: January 2023 – March 2023 (Update – this is an extension from the previous date of end of February)

Supplier Showcase: Early February 2023

Contracting and Transition: April 2023 onwards

How long will it take from choosing my new OCVC supplier to having the new service installed?

This can vary, depending on supplier rollout and practice need. Your service will need to be ready to go live on 1 April 2023, but some may be able to happen before/after this date.

Its important that choices and transition are managed sensitively and pragmatically to ensure 1) no double running and 2) no gaps in service.

If I choose a supplier and don’t like them, how long before I can change supplier to one of the others?

You can change suppliers from three months after the service starts in your practice to one of the other two recommended OCVC suppliers offered by NCL ICB.​

How long will I have this supplier?

The contracts are for two years, with an optional third year.​

When are the supplier webinars (supplier showcase) going to be?

The NCL Digital First team are asking suppliers to run a two-week showcase in between Monday 6 February – Friday 17 February. 

There will be live and recorded webinars and demonstrations for practice staff to drop-in. The sessions will be advertised at different times of the day and repeated throughout the 2 weeks. Each session will be recorded and accessible at any time.

In parallel, there is with further supplier information that can be accessed here that will be will regularly updated.

2. Suppliers

Who are the current OCVC providers?

  • AccuRx
  • eConsult
  • EMIS
  • FootFall

Some practices within NCL have direct contracts with providers such as Dr iQ, but these contracts are not managed by NCL ICB or NCL Digital First. This means that they are out of scope of the above question.

Who are the new OCVC providers?

  • eConsult 
  • FootFall

Can I keep my current OCVC provider?

If your supplier is one of the three new suppliers NCL ICB offer, then yes and there will be no change to the service you currently receive. However, if you wish to move to another recommended supplier then you are free to do so.

If your current supplier is not one of the ones NCL ICB offer, then you will have to change supplier to one of the recommended three.

Will I be able to see a supplier demo of the OCVC service before I choose?

Yes. NCL Digital First are planning a two week ‘showcase’ period so practices can see the systems and ask questions directly to the suppliers. 

Information about the showcase will be made available from late January. This site will be regularly updated with more information, access to demo/sandbox system, and dedicated supplier inboxes for practice queries.

The 2-week supplier showcase (6-17 February 2023) will include live webinars that will cover different aspects of the products functionality.

Webinar sessions will be repeated and recorded so you can still access them if you are unable to attend.

How can I submit my choice?

The choice* you make will need to be submitted via the Microsoft Form on this link OCVC Practice Choice Form. You will need to inform us by the end of March whether you are staying with your current supplier or switching (to another supplier). The person submitting the form should be a Practice Manager, Business Manager or GP Partner.

We are strongly encouraging practices within a PCN to all choose the same OCVC supplier. The recent Fuller Report emphasised the importance of the future development of Enhanced Access and eHubs, and practices within a PCN all having the same OCVC provider will give a firm foundation to these developments, as well as provide resilience within the local system. Please work with your PCN and neighbouring practices to choose the supplier you feel will work best for your practice, your PCN and your patients.


If after using one of the providers and you would like to switch, you can do so after three months to one of the other two OCVC providers offered by NCL ICB.


*If a practice decides that they want to go with an OCVC provider who is not one of the three offered to them by the NCL ICB, they can. However, no new contract should start before 1 April 2023 to avoid cost double running and gaps in service. The NCL ICB will provide funding equivalent to the budgeted cost per patient directly to the practice. If the chosen supplier costs more than that, practices must fund the extra themselves.

 If you choose outside of the three suppliers, practices must:

  • Read the FAQs on NCL OCVC procurement for further details.
  • Complete the OCVC Practice Choice Form to indicate their choice to buy OCVC services directly.
  • Choose a supplier from the national Digital First OCVC Buying Catalogue ( The National Procurement Hub is available to advise ( ).
  • Take responsibility for all contracting and contract management.
  • Take responsibility for all clinical and data safety assurances.

How do I know if a provider’s system is clinically safe?

All suppliers that are on the national Digital First OCVC Framework have proven to NHS England that their product meets clinical safety standards. The supplier will have met the DCB0129 standard.

The deploying organisation (GP surgery in this case) will need to ensure that clinical risk management activities (via a DCB0160) have been done for the application (in this case OCVC) being deployed and used for healthcare purposes.

Following a successful and rigorous procurement process, NCL ICB will do the DCB0160 on behalf of NCL practices for only these 3 recommended suppliers ONLY:

  1. eConsult
  3. FootFall

The clinical safety cases will be updated for only the 3 recommended suppliers, by NCL’s Operational Clinical Safety Officer as and when there are updates to the supplier’s software to ensure compliance and safety assurance in line with the safety standards.

Should you wish to choose a supplier outside of the 3 NCL recommend suppliers, then you would need to undertake your own DCB0160 for your practice and cover all associated governance and potential costs

Please contact the Digital First Team if you require any assistance regarding clinical safety standards

More information on the standards can be found on: DCB0160 and DCB0129.

Can my practice choose one provider for OC and another provider for VC?

NCL ICB will only pay for one OCVC supplier per practice. ​

However, if a practice, PCN, federation or borough wishes to, they can, at their own cost, contract another supplier via the Digital First OCVC Buying Catalogue on top of the one they have through the ICB. All additional costs must be met by the practice.

Where can I find the Digital First OCVC Buying Catalogue?

If you are buying an OCVC solution because you do not want one of the ones offered by NCL Digital First, your practice can claim up to the equivalent cost of 23p per patient in funding for an OCVC service, but practices will be responsible for any costs over this amount.

The National Procurement Hub can advise practices, PCNs, Federations, Boroughs how to purchase from the buying catalogue.

In general, the procurement thresholds for the Digital Buying Catalogue are as follows:

Less than £40k – Direct Award. Any practice can directly contract with a provider of choice from the buying catalogue. The national hub can help advise

Between £40k and £250k – On Catalogue. A group of practices can purchase OCVC products via an On Catalogue competition. This would need a basic specification and a desktop exercise. Advice and guidance is available via the National Hub.

Please remember that your practice will be responsible for:

  • Procurement and contracting (Each practice will have to directly contract with the supplier)
  • Contract management and performance
  • Clinical and data safety case
  • Additional costs

You can find out more about the National Procurement Hub here:​

​You can also find more information on the Direct Award procedure if you want to procure outside the recommended suppliers here:

3. Deciding the Suppliers

How did Digital First decide which potential suppliers to approach?

The OCVC Working Group asked GP practices which OCVC features they felt were most important in the running of their practices and this informed the design and content of the procurement.

The core and desirable functions were fed into the National Procurement Hub’s DFOCVC Framework, and the Framework indicated which suppliers on it met those requirements.​

A specification and evaluation questions were developed by the OCVC Working Group.

How many suppliers met the requirements?

Nine suppliers met the requirements, and all nine were invited to tender bids.​

How many suppliers put a bid in?

Of the nine suppliers invited to tender, six suppliers put a bid in.​

Who evaluated these bids?

The Digital First team worked with the GPPA, Digital Clinical Leads, the ICB and Healthwatch to come up with an evaluation panel.

The evaluation panel consisted of*:

  • Clinical representation (Appointed independently via the GPPA)
  • Clinical Safety representation
  • Primary Care Commissioning​ representation
  • Patient Voice representation
  • Financial representation

*Please see make-up of the OCVC working group for the wider stakeholder group that contributed to the shape and content of the procurement

4. PCNs & Practices

Why should I take note of what other practices in my PCN are doing?

The ICB strongly encourages and recommends that all practices within a PCN choose the same OCVC supplier.

Each practice is responsible for informing Redmoor of their choice but having the same supplier within a PCN means that it will be easier to work together to create an eHub or Enhanced Access. 

This will lead to a smoother, more streamlined point of access for patients, as well as creating resilience in your local system.​

Can my PCN force me/my practice to choose a specific provider?

No. But we do strongly recommend that all practices within a PCN choose the same OCVC supplier for the reasons noted above.

Have you told PCN clinical directors about this?

Yes. They have already had some direct communications about the procurement, as well as being included in the communications that have gone to GP practices as well as represented on the OCVC Working Group.

Do I have to choose the same supplier as the rest of my PCN?

You do not have to; however, it is strongly advised that you do as having different OCVC suppliers within a PCN will limit the success of any eHub or Enhanced Access work that happens at a PCN level. 

Should I talk to my PCN clinical director or other practices within my PCN?

Definitely. Talking together to discuss how you can best work together will help you make the right collective decision for your practice and your PCN.

5. Costs & Funding

Who is paying for this all?

The funding for OCVC comes down through a specific Digital First budget from NHS England.

How much does OCVC cost?

It depends. NCL Digital First has a price envelope pence per patient. All the 3 recommended suppliers are fully covered within this budget and as such there is no charge to the practice in choosing one of the three suppliers.

In general, most suppliers on the National Buying Catalogue charge within the allocated budget, however additional costs maybe accrued if a practice decided to contract independently outside of the three recommended suppliers.

Will my practice have to pay anything?

If you choose one of the three suppliers offered by NCL Digital First, then no, you will not have to pay anything.​

If you do not want to choose one of the three suppliers offered by NCL Digital First, your practice will need to procure a service directly from the Digital First OCVC Framework. ​

You will receive funding equivalent to the budgeted cost of 23p per patient for a different supplier, but you will have to pay any associated procurement, clinical and data safety, and contract management costs. 

If your chosen supplier costs more than the budgeted cost per patient, you/your practice will have to pay for the excess costs.​

6. Support for practices

What support will my practice get if we change supplier?

All OCVC suppliers will be expected to give practices the change management and training support they need to transition to the new supplier which will include all pre-transition training and ‘on boarding’ support. This will usually last about 2-4 weeks before a new system goes live.

You will be contacted by your new supplier to arrange this. You can also ask Redmoor Health for support as part of their existing support contract in NCL. You can also reach out to your PCN’s Digital Champion.​

Who can I call if my practice needs help learning the system?

You can call your OCVC supplier directly. They will work with your old supplier to ensure a smooth transition

Is there any best practice guidance for use of OCVC?

The London Digital First team have developed an Online Consultations (OC) Handbook. They collaborated with clinical leads, change managers and practice staff to ensure the information in the Handbook is relevant and easy to use. The document is also interactive, so users can navigate directly to an area of interest.

The Handbook aims to support practices to:

  • promote online consultation tools with local communities and patients
  • improve understanding by learning from good practice examples
  • better adapt process flow to meet the needs of patients
  • increase OC utilisation.

What are the provider's contact details?

For any supplier queries or to organise a demonstration of a product, please contact the relevant account manager:

eConsult –


7. Q&A from the showcase events

What about red flags? How are these picked up and communicated on the form?

This is also an optional feature as part of the AI’s known as Urgency AI and is based on machine learning looking for triggers such as what patients say for example –

Have you had any patient feedback on PATCHS and what has this been like?

We have received over 275,000 reviews with an average star rating off 4.5/5 and GP practices have reported that only 22% of requests required face-to-face consultations.

Can my practice claim any excess funding if my chosen supplier charges less than the cost per patient?

They are quite different systems, patchs uses free text for the patient to communicate as well as language translation. We have user accounts so a patient does not need to input each time. We use artifical intelligence to both triage and suggest questionnaires, we also offer bulk messaging and 2 way messaging through the system. You can either sms or email the patient, we also save notes as free text. Another key difference is demand management where you can say how many requests you can handle per day or even per hour.

Does econsult have a text message facility similar to accrux?

Yes, to add halo value we have sms, email, video and telephony.

We can call patients through econsult as well?

Yes through our toolbar, there is a feature to call patients through the telephony system and switch to video visa versa.

Can the forms be turned off proactively & allow a certain number eg 10 between 8-10am, none until 2pm then 10 between 2-4pm? And can you allow admin/LTC forms while turning off the clinical ones?

Yes you can pick and choose which requests are available/unavailable with Patient Form Control and schedule this to recur at the same times every day or for special events.

Can we setup worklist by teams or group?

Yes there is a setting called Form Routing which allows you to route certain requests types to teams/groups of users on the dashboard.

Our FootFall Connect and EMIS Integration demo video can be found here: where you will be able to see the integration and toolbar in action.