03 February 2005 | David Arminas
The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (Pasa) is to receive a 40 per cent hike in its budget as it takes on extra responsibilities following a Department of Health (DoH) review.
As well as taking on an additional £4 billion of spend, it will take over the responsibilities of other health bodies and oversee procurement of private health provision for the new NHS treatment centres.
Duncan Eaton, Pasa's chief executive, told SM: "Increasingly we will be involved in the implementation of government policy to provide better value for money by purchasing healthcare from the private sector.
"This will include going to the market to find out what is available, negotiating contracts and managing them."
Pasa's new role comes after a DoH financial review designed to make efficiency savings of around £100 million by 2007-08.
Pasa is one of the largest of DoH's arms-length bodies, with current responsibility for £10 billion of the NHS's £16 billion annual procurement budget.
The new role will see Pasa's annual budget rise by £4 billion within two to three years, according to a Pasa spokeswoman.
Eaton said there had been some anxiety among staff about job security when the changes to Pasa were initially announced last month, but now the reverse was likely to be the case: "As we grow by taking on the responsibilities of several DoH agencies, there is likely to be a modest increase in staff."
In addition to taking over the Device Evaluation Service from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in March, Pasa will extend its role to other bodies, but the spokesman said the identity of these organisations had not yet been finalised.
As part of the revamp, Pasa will work closely with the NHS's 28 collaborative procurement hubs around England. The agency will offer them advice, product and market knowledge and negotiating skills. When required, it will help them to establish contracts.
"This is different way of working for us" said Eaton. "We will be a lot more focused on the hubs rather than individual trusts. And we have to agree with the hubs what is best done at a national or a regional level."