A new NHS procurement guidance document aims to bring hospital procurement and healthcare commissioning closer together.
‘NHS Procurement: Raising Our Game’ is the first step in the establishment of a national procurement strategy, and goes out with a call for “evidence and ideas”.
The guidance addresses the organisation and review of NHS procurement, looking to see better collaboration and sharing of data between trusts.
Sir David Nicholson (pictured), NHS Chief Executive, says that NHS procurement needs to be “focused on outcomes, not cost” and be responsive to “creative ideas from suppliers, procurement specialists, clinicians and managers”.
The guidance claims the NHS can save £1.2bn per year by making its procurement more efficient.
At present, it says, the system is “fragmented” and lacks coherent data. The current system of framework agreements does not address the wide variations in procurement practice and commitment to suppliers.
The NHS needs to bring down both the costs of procurement and the costs of medical supplies – to achieve these goals, the guidance argues, greater transparency and use of IT are key.
Part of the proposed solution is greater use of procurement partners such as NHS Supply Chain, which “can be incentivised to give stronger commitment to suppliers in return for better terms”.
The DH wants Trusts to develop an ‘open door’ policy towards all providers, and will update the NHS standard terms and conditions of contract for goods and services to support its existing guidance on innovation.
The existing National Procurement Council will develop working groups to implement the national procurement strategy as it evolves this year.
Sir Ian Carruthers, Chief Executive, NHS South of England, has issued a call for “evidence and ideas” on ways to develop “world class procurement” to the NHS, industry, the academic and voluntary sectors and social care.
His letter comments: “We need more innovative procurement processes and more widespread procurement of innovation. By harnessing relationships with suppliers, the NHS can adopt existing innovations and stimulate new innovation to deliver quality and value.”