01 February 2001 | Jon Hoeksma
The NHS is set to introduce a single national e-procurement system by 2002.
Savings of up to 20 per cent are anticipated by e-enabling the entire NHS supply chain, Eric Jackson, head of NHS e-commerce strategy at the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PSA), told delegates to a conference in London last week. The move signals a major policy shift for the NHS.
"We can't continue in the old ways," he said. "We want to be more like Sainsbury's and use the same system across the whole of the NHS."
The PSA had been focusing on providing a framework and standards for purchasing, and leaving it to trusts to sort out their own e-procurement systems. Jackson reiterated the importance of standards and said finance needed to be integrated into the national system.
The timeframe includes presenting a business case to the Treasury by March, a tender notice for a systems provider in the Official Journal of the European Communities and a contract to be awarded by December or January 2002.
"Any solution must include catalogue, transaction and supply chain management," Jackson said. A separate contract will be awarded for a national e-tendering system.
The NHS has an annual non-pay spend of £11 billion, of which £5.6 billion is on goods and services, according to government figures.