A procurement project to standardise the uniform for UK ambulance workers is set to deliver savings of £3.4m for the NHS.
The project has streamlined the number of different clothing items from more than 80 to just 16 to produce an estimated saving of 37% over the four-year duration of the initial framework agreement, compared to previous costs.
The new uniform includes the adoption of a new NHS Ambulance Service crest and a standard dark green colour.
The project was delivered by the National Ambulance Procurement Group (NAPG) in partnership with the NHS Commercial Alliance, and involved “extensive nationwide stakeholder engagement”.
Daren Hopkinson, chair of the National Ambulance Procurement Group and head of procurement at the North West Ambulance Service, said: “This project demonstrates how like-minded NHS organisations across the UK, with a common requirement, can successfully collaborate to achieve quality and efficiency benefits.
“Ultimately the 37% saving feeds into our organisations’ primary objective, which is sustained patient care.”
As well as the standard uniform, the framework also gives ambulance trusts access to a pool of approved suppliers for other work wear items and protective equipment such as helmets and safety footwear.
NHS Commercial Alliance said the majority of ambulance trusts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are either wearing or in the process of migrating to the new uniform.
Ambulance trusts in the UK spend an estimated £3.2m each year on uniforms, buying 65,000 shirts and 55,000 trousers.
Prior to the project different trusts used a variety of suppliers and had various local contracts and agreements in place with differing prices and terms.
James Richards, national ambulance procurement delivery manager at NHS Commercial Alliance, said: “This landmark procurement has delivered an excellent outcome that has fundamentally changed the way the marketplace operates for ambulance trusts in this category and achieved substantial savings and operational benefits.”
The work involved the establishment of a working group at NAPG that included procurement leads from trusts around the country. The project formed two lots, the first for core uniform and the second for general work wear.
Testing took place to establish the specification for garments, and suppliers and their supply chains were evaluated on ethical grounds.
A new National Uniform User Group has been formed that will monitor the core uniform, help with developing future specifications and identify further opportunities for standardisation and rationalisation.
The previous government made attempts to get the emergency services to collaborate on procurement with plans to let police and crime commissioners bring police, fire and ambulance services into single premises under one employer.
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