06 September 2001 | Robin Parker
NHS purchasing on a national contract basis will rise from a fifth of the total to a third following stronger than expected savings by the Purchasing and Supply Agency (Pasa).
Its annual report just out says that in its first year of operation the agency reduced spending on pharmaceuticals most strongly - more than £41 million, or 50 per cent above target.
Pasa, together with its sister agency NHS Logistics, replaced NHS Supplies in April 2000. Pasa's target was to cut £111 million from its £2.2 billion annual spend, but savings have so far reached £171 million.
For 2001-02 the agency will increase the values of its savings target and contracts to £130 million and £2.6 billion respectively. It will also work with NHS Logistics to devise a purchasing strategy and action plan.
Pasa chief executive Duncan Eaton told SM the savings were achieved by effective procurement practices and its negotiating power as part of the Depart- ment of Health. But he added that the agency had only begun to raise procurement's profile.
"There is a lot of work to be done to persuade the NHS as a whole of the value of effective procurement," he said. "We're relying on individual trusts to share their experiences and to show real examples of good purchasing practice."
An increased use of electronic tendering has influenced savings, added Eric Jackson, Pasa's e-commerce director.