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7 October 2013 | Helen Gilbert
An NHS hospital is hoping to give SMEs better access to the health service supply chain through the letting of framework contracts.
The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust believes the move will act as a "shop window" for the NHS to view and buy innovative products, while affording smaller suppliers greater opportunities to penetrate the system.
“We’re trying to look at offering a framework that covers the whole of the NHS,” Andy O’Connor, director of commercial procurement services told Supply Management.
“So instead of having to go through another tender exercise, there’ll be one tender process which gives SMEs access to the NHS for specific products.”
O’Connor developed the idea after growing "increasingly frustrated" by reports that small, innovative suppliers were unable to access the system.
Clinical, utilities and electrical goods are among the areas currently being explored.
“We have, to date, held a number of conversations with practising clinicians who have products they believe offer added levels of benefit to NHS organisations but who are struggling to penetrate the NHS marketplace,” he said.
“We’ve got some others which aren’t clinical, at the ITT stage and are looking at being delivered in the next four weeks.”
O’Connor said the intention was for his 24 strong purchasing team to become ‘champions of procurement’ for the wider NHS and added the income generated by the framework letting opportunity would support this, enabling investment in team development.