A new phase of procurement transformation is underway in the NHS, as it begins unveiling an organisation-wide procurement framework for its IT services. The new framework will be modelled on the G-Cloud digital marketplace devised for Central Government and is an unusual initiative for the Health Service according to NHS CIO, Will Smart, as it rarely makes organisation-wide purchases.
The aim is to create a system capable of achieving better deals with suppliers, code for improved cost reduction and sourcing savings. More NHS-wide procurement frameworks will follow, Smart announced, allowing the Health Service to use its commercial scale to strike the most optimal deals with vendors, while simultaneously allowing local organisations to develop their own most appropriate solutions. Smart says it will be achieved “at a core technological level.”
The new ‘Health Systems Support Framework’, or HSSF, is already operating in parts of the NHS, although it is not complete at this stage as new phases or ‘Lots’ will be rolled out in the coming months. Smart explained: “The HSSF is a bit like the G-Cloud environment within wider government frameworks that have the key vendors there with the right terms conditions available for local organisations. It’s about striking that balance between national buying power versus local.” He added that the next batch of frameworks is already in the pipeline and will appear shortly, with Lot 1 of the HSSF, which covers electronic patient record or ERP systems, launching later this month.
The NHS was hit by the notorious WannaCry ransomware in May 2017, a crisis later blamed on a lackadaisical organisational attitude to IT security. On that occasion, many NHS Trusts had failed to keep up-to-date with the latest Windows 7 patches, which, in turn, allowed the ransomware to cause havoc in large swathes of the organisation. Will Smart has taken the crisis very seriously and has worked to improve security across the NHS ever since.