'General acceptance of need for change' in NHS procurement

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
25 September 2015

Procurement in the NHS needs to become more collaborative but there is a “general acceptance of the need for change”, an event was told.

Mick Corti, commercial and business development director at the NHS London Procurement Partnership hub, said NHS care providers were facing a collective deficit of £822 million in 2014-15 against a backdrop of rising costs. He said in 2013-14 trusts spent £72 billion, including £22 billion of non-pay spend, but just £6.7 billion went through NHS Supply Chain, the Crown Commercial Service and procurement hubs collectively.

Speaking at a CIPS central London branch meeting, Corti said NHS procurement was characterised by lack of leadership, poor data and systems, multiple orders and invoices and a “fragmented system and a culture of no sharing”.

He said over the next six months NHS procurement champion Lord Carter would be producing a final report and details would emerge of renegotiated arrangements with NHS Supply Chain.

Corti said it was possible Carter would set collaboration standards for trusts. “The NHS needs to be more collaborative,” he said. “Perhaps Carter will do it to us. If he doesn’t, perhaps we will do it ourselves?”

Corti said a barrier to change at trust level was “the local procurement teams are overstretched and under-resourced”, which meant it was harder to persuade stakeholders of the merits of centralised purchasing.

Corti outlined a “model hospital” that would feature a single NHS catalogue covering all products bought by trusts, with support from stores and logistics systems, backed up by compliance policies, procedures and systems.

“I think we have a general acceptance of the case for change,” he said. “There is an evolution taking place in the NHS over procurement. I think it will become clear over the next six months what that will look like.”

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