London NHS Trusts outsource buying to BMI

7 December 2011

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7 December 2011 | Angeline Albert

A group of four NHS trusts in London plan to  outsource the purchase of medical consumables to a private hospital group to cut costs.

The trusts are discussing a 10–year deal with BMI Healthcare, which operates 70 private hospitals in the UK, to buy medical consumables such as wound dressings.

The trusts - Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, South London Healthcare NHS Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust - hope to start using BMI from 1 June 2012. The goal is to combine the buying power of the private group with the public sector.

This collaboration could pave the way for a phased outsourcing of purchasing such items at 44 NHS trusts in London, which together spend £150 million on 30,000 medical consumables annually. It is not compulsory for trusts to sign up to the deal, but both the London Procurement Programme (LPP), - the organisation that fosters collaboration between the trusts and helped set up the deal – and BMI expect all 44 to be on board by December 2013.

BMI Healthcare plan to handle supplier selection, contract negotiation and award, and the store and delivery of products. It will focus particularly on 3,000 items that make up 95 per cent of the 44 trusts’ medical consumables spend. 

To reduce the total 30,000 products bought, it will agree a ‘BMI standard’ product for certain items.

David Lawson, director of procurement at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the collaboration “will provide total transparency and support to drive and co-ordinate product standardisation”.

John Nicholson, supply chain project lead at London Procurement Programme (LPP), said new IT systems would improve spending data. He said: There’s a good few million pounds of spend that we don’t have visibility of.”

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