Put patients ahead of price, NHS buyers told

20 September 2021

NHS procurement will save more money by focusing on sustainability rather than cutting costs, an event was told.

Michael Pace, managing director of buying hub the NHS London Procurement Partnership, said building building sustainability and social value factors into NHS procurement would improve the health of the general public and cut the number of patients entering hospitals.

Speaking at Procurex National, Pace said the NHS needed to make “better decisions rather than just trying to push the price” in its procurement strategy.

He said air pollution currently created by the NHS means “we’re creating our own patients”. 

The NHS is responsible for 4-5% of all carbon emissions in England. It is estimated air pollution contributes to around 36,000 deaths annually.

From 2022, the NHS will require that 10% of weighted value within tenders will be judged on sustainability and social value factors. But Pace said changes to procurement needed to be monitored in order to be effective. 

“It's not just about building that into the procurement, it's actually about being able to monitor that. The tools that we're looking at are about where we put key performance indicators in there, and working with our suppliers to make sure that they keep the systems updated so we can constantly monitor that and drive that,” he said.

Pace also said greater collaboration could see a more effective approach to procurement across the NHS. 

“I've seen over the last 12 months, and saw more accelerated in the last six months, this drive for cooperation. We've come from an environment in the last 15-20 years where we've been competing against each other, and not sharing good practice. That has really, really changed,” he said.

“I'm seeing across London that we are really coming together as a region. We've got five integrated care system structures in London, but they're not developing in isolation, they are developing together. We are looking at this as a region, and really driving that agenda.” 

Pace continued: “There's always going to be pressure on the NHS in terms of spending. But by coming together as an organisation and starting to collaborate together, we will become better customers, better buyers.

“The next step really is to move away from all the transactions that we've done in the past and really work with our suppliers to find the innovations and drive the innovations. And it's the innovations which will create the savings for us, and help us to meet the targets that we've got.

“It's not easy. It's not simple. But there's a lot of work that's got to be done,” he said. 

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