Doctor prescribes tonic for better stakeholder relations

17 January 2013

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17 January 2013 | Adam Leach

NHS buyers and their clinical colleagues should discuss procurement strategies in a welcoming and ‘homely’ environment and keep bureaucracy to a minimum, according to a medical director.

Dr Steve Ryan, medical director at Barts Health NHS Trust, told the audience at the London Procurement Partnership Conference this week that light touch governance worked best when trying to generate close working relationships between procurement and clinicians.

Ryan, who chairs the clinical procurement group at Barts, said: “It’s been relatively governance light. We haven’t turned this into a big bureaucratic exercise for the doctors. They can come along and tell their story to the group. It feels quite homely for clinicians.”

While he strongly advocated keeping governance levels low in order to attract members to the group, he stressed the need to sometimes be provocative to get traction between buyers and clinicians during the meetings. “Some of it is about being provocative, saying ‘that’s what they do in Leeds, that’s what they do in Manchester’, so why can’t we do it at Barts’,” he added.

Ryan also advised setting clear objectives from the start to achieve progress. He told the group: “We will be using fewer products, we will not be using eight, we will be using two, and get used to it because that’s what is going to happen.” To assure clinicians procurement would not just look for cheaper supplies, the group stressed that the process will be scored in relation to quality rather than just cost.

Since the group was formed, it has helped deliver a £1 million saving in pacemakers and £750,000 on hip and knee replacements, out of a total spend of £2.83 million.

Building stronger relationships with clinical colleagues was cited as one of the six key areas procurement should focus on by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson at the same event.

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