The NHS’s ‘towering’ procurement transformation plans explained

A senior NHS procurement expert has set out the core features of the health service’s…...

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A senior NHS procurement expert has set out the core features of the health service’s new Supply Chain Operation Model which will involve significantly reformed approaches to category management, cost reduction and supply relationship management.

The reforms will be overseen and managed by Supply Chain Coordination Ltd, a body created by the Department of Health and Social Care. In an article for National Health Executive magazine, its Director of Strategy and Corporate Communications, Gerard McGeary, has explained that the new NHS Supply Chain Model (formerly known as the Future Operating Model) has been designed to:

  • Achieve cost reductions totalling £2.4bn over the coming five years, which will be reinvested in frontline services
  • Enhance the purchasing power of the NHS at a national level
  • Grow the use of NHS Supply Chain from 40% to 80%

The development follows a 2016 review by Lord Carter into efficiency and productivity in the NHS, which found major variations in procurement and led to plans to improve operational efficiencies. The resulting procurement transformation plan was designed to help integrate an unacceptably fragmented procurement process.

Category management and supply relationship management get a new look in the form of eleven “Category Towers”, each with a separate contract with the NHS. Five of the ‘towers’ will specialise in medical procurement, with the remainder dealing with capital and non-medical procurement. They will be phased in over two stages, with the aim of delivering high quality clinical and non-clinical products at the best value.

The six medical towers went live on 8 May 2018, while one of the non-medical towers (Crown Commercial Services) went live in October last year.

Mc Geary writes: “The overall aim of the new NHS Supply Chain is to leverage the collective buying power of the NHS to provide clinically-assured products at the best value which meet the diverse needs of NHS organisations, our patients and public.”

The strengths or weaknesses of this plan are yet to be seen, and it is likely to be cause for ongoing discussion in the months and years ahead.

Steve Trainor

Steve has over 28 years of success as CPO, MD and Procurement BPO leader in a range of industries. Steve is COO at Odesma, responsible for Odesma’s delivery capability & infrastructure.

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