Our sister company, Health Online, has recently launched their latest report on healthcare procurement. The report discusses complex topics which are becoming increasingly significant for the future of public sector tendering in the NHS and NHS supply chain.
Among these are collaboration across the entire NHS organisation and between buyers and suppliers, as well as the transformation of the NHS to meet the needs of patients in an environment where value for money and efficiency for all service users is paramount.
This relates to Supply2Gov’s area of expertise as a tender alerts tool to help you win public sector NHS contracts.
NHS tendering is evolving
Many key figures in NHS procurement and NHS supply chain attended the P4H England event at the NEC in Birmingham this year. Amongst them was the Managing Director of Corporate Services at NHS London Procurement Partnership, Michael Pace.
Referencing Lord Carter of Coles’ report on hospital efficiency, which was published in 2015, Pace stated that:
“as an NHS family, it’s our time to respond and start to support the collaboration that drives the efficiencies Carter identified.”
A key take from Carter’s report was on removing unwarranted variation on NHS contracts. With so many frameworks operating at once, the landscape is complex and confusing for prospecting customers. According to Pace, “the competitive edge has been given away to our suppliers, as they pick and choose how they want to work with the individual frameworks and how they want to sell back to the NHS.”
The solution to this is providing an opportunity for trusts to work together to reduce costs. By evaluating and scrutinising the way the NHS buys and how the collaboration is created, this can be achieved.
Transparent and accessible frameworks
In 2018, the gigantic public sector supplier Carillion collapsed after too many risky contracts left them with debts of £1.6 bn. As the second largest government supplier, Carillion worked on a range of huge construction projects including the Aberdeen bypass and the new Royal Liverpool Hospital as well as high-profile work for the private sector including Anfield Stadium in Liverpool. The demise of Carillion caused extensive damage not only to its clients and employees, but also its supply chain and the public sector. It led to extensive discussion on how to prevent similar collapses happening in future. Among the ideas raised was increasing transparency between buyers and suppliers involved in large framework agreements going forward.
There has been a clear shift on buyer and supplier collaboration to achieve frameworks that are transparent and easy to access. The NHS in particular is working to maximise collaborative procurement, with its objectives for the next ten years outlined in the NHS ‘Long Term Plan’.
The document, published in January 2019, shows the efforts already being made to streamline services between NHS trusts. It also highlights progress made within the current legislative framework, whilst it simultaneously puts forward a list of potential legislative changes that would smooth out and accelerate the procurement process further. An example of this is allowing joint decision-making between buyers and suppliers and reducing competition in the NHS.
Speaking at the P4H England 2019 event, Beth Loudon, Head of Procurement Development and Sourcing at NHS SBS, stressed that “framework agreements should always be made with the customer at the centre.”
She added the need “to be proactive in shaping new markets and developing outcome-based procurement solutions.”
Loudon’s speech highlighted that there is a long way to go, and collaboration between all parties was the key to improving services for patients – the overall goal of the NHS. In all cases, benefiting the NHS and NHS supply chain is the driving force behind the change.
What is the goal for the future for healthcare procurement?
To bring greater clarity to NHS procurement and to reduce inefficiencies, which will be valuable both to the NHS itself and to its many supplier organisations in the short and long term.
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