Procurement professionals I meet across the NHS have mixed opinions and feelings about how the recent changes are affecting their organisations. The health reforms have affected staff at all levels, and account managing our NHS clients has made me appreciate first-hand how things in procurement never stand still for very long. After all it was only 3 months ago that the majority of health service procurements were being managed by Primary Care Trusts; and now in the new world, decision making has shifted to the newly formed local groups of clinicians, called Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
With the NHS having the challenge of making £20bn efficiency savings by 2015, and with procurements being managed across regions whose boundaries have both grown and shrunk, I wonder how quickly healthcare services will be transformed at scale and at pace? Alongside the continuing demand for high quality healthcare services, the NHS cannot afford to wait and see what’s next around the corner.
We’re being told that to help drive forward efficiency savings NHS England are hosting newly formed Commissioning Support Units (CSU) who amongst their transformational services are set up to offer locally focussed procurement services to their member CCGs.
It’s been encouraging to see that procurement is under the spotlight, and even with these changes one thing remains the same, be it with even more focus; that procurement must be carried out in a fair, robust and transparent manner.
I’m seeing organisations working together in making decisions to deliver cost effective procurement services to their customers. It makes sense that organisations are being encouraged to work collaboratively. Although this presents its own obstacles, I’m finding it also presents lots of opportunity. People are telling me they see consistencies across organisations where there weren’t any before; and I join others in saying that to take the NHS to a new level, organisations cannot afford to work alone and will find strength and power in working together.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned NHS Foundation Trusts!