06 September 2001 | Robin Parker
Closer co-ordination with NHS buying practices has improved NHS Logistics' supplier relationships and expanded its national supplies catalogue to 20,000 products.
Joint identification of product demand with the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (Pasa) has added over 2,000 items to the national catalogue in the past year, according to the authority's first annual report.
It has now set a target to increase the value of national purchases from £550 million a year to £700 million over the next few years.
Barry Mellor, the authority's chief executive, said the supply chain was becoming more efficient, aided by larger, more strategic distribution centres and standard, open purchasing systems available to each trust on the NHS intranet.
NHS Logistics also recently reorganised its inventory management team, which used to operate on a geographical basis. Its members now specialise in specific commodities, in line with the buying team from its sister organisation, Pasa.
"Suppliers often used to deal with five or six of our managers," said Mellor. "Now every supplier has a one-to-one relationship with one representative of each NHS body."
Mellor added that the organisation is also planning to devolve purchasing responsibility through a web-based front-end system on which ward managers can use the national catalogues and also create "favourites" lists for items that are purchased frequently.
The scheme is being piloted in three trusts before a roll-out at the end of the year.