The NHS is to get access to the technology used by retailers including Tesco and Argos with the aim of achieving millions of pounds of procurement savings.
NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has teamed up with tech firm Virtualstock to give NHS organisations access to a platform providing purchase-to-pay e-procurement and a competitive online marketplace with as many as 100,000 suppliers.
“Transparent costing and access to the right products will mean that millions of pounds of waste, caused in the past by huge variation in prices paid by NHS organisations for everything from syringes to surgical gloves, can now be avoided,” said NHS SBS.
The move follows recommendations in Lord Carter’s review of the NHS, which called for a single national online catalogue as part of efforts to achieve £1bn of procurement savings.
Already the Shelford Group, made up of 10 NHS trusts, has signed up to use the technology, known as the Edge.
The Edge allows hospitals to purchase products “in a way that users experience in everyday online shopping”, said NHS SBS.
Rob Knott, director of healthcare and public sector at Virtualstock, said: “NHS SBS and Virtualstock are providing the NHS with rapid access to the right products at the right price, in the same way that major online retailers have done for years.”
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.