Occupational health contract was chance to 'sell procurement'

9 March 2020

Sharing expertise and supporting stakeholders was critical to a successful procurement overhaul of occupational health services at North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT). 

Pavanjit Devsi, director of procurement and contracts at NELFT, BEH (Barnet, Enfield, and Haringey) and C&I (Camden & Islington) Procurement Shared Services, said services were previously under two “overpriced” contracts that “weren’t being managed very well”. 

Speaking at eWorld Procurement and Supply conference, she said engaging with stakeholders was essential to understand what the organisation wanted from the service. 

“We had two contracts but they were both overpriced. We didn't have an understanding in terms of the data being processed and contracts weren't being managed very well,” she explained.

The procurement team worked with HR to understand what they needed from the services in order to go out to market and fulfil their requests.

“What we didn't want to do is just to go and procure something from a framework without actually really understanding what people want and need. We spent a lot of time with them [stakeholders] scoping things like the KPIs they had in place and why they weren't working.

“It wasn't just about speaking to suppliers and understanding what they do, but about really understanding what we wanted as an organisation,” she said. 

Through the process Devsi’s team was able to save £50,000 on the new contract, but procurement’s role wasn’t over. The contract was being handed over to some people that had not managed contracts before, so it was important to support them, Devsi said. 

“We gave them ideas on how to structure a contract management meetings. We started going along to the first meetings, and then we got to a place where we were going once a quarter. It was a really good way for us to sell procurement and the value we bring,” she said. 

Devsi’s role in procurement also changed as in 2017, when the procurement shared service was established with BEH NHS Foundation Trust. Shared procurement was also extended to C&I trust in 2019. 

Following the success of the contract for NELFT, Devsi and her team are now looking to scale the contract and go out to market alongside BEH and C&I Foundation Trusts in 2020. 

“We're going to share some of the learnings we've found, along with best practice about what a good spec looks like, what the KPIs are and how they make sense and work with the stakeholders to do understand it,” she said.  

Devsi said managing the process has provided the procurement team with invaluable knowledge it can use for future scaled procurements.

“Throughout this entire process, I've had two or three people working on it so the value they now have as intellectual capital to give to other people and for us to retain as a shared service is invaluable.

“It's not just about going and buying the best value product. It's about making sure we're really bringing some industry knowledge as well as local knowledge on what's important and why we should be doing it,” she said.

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