Driving savings in procurement

Source: NHE Jan/Feb 17

Jennie Brice-Boutard writing on behalf of NHS Supply Chain explains how strong clinical engagement, dedicated resource and a close procurement partnership helped Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT deliver over £600,000 savings.

With increased pressure on budgets and maintaining high standards of care, individual departments within trusts are finding themselves in new territory in procurement that will inevitably require a change of approach. 

By working in collaboration with trusts to help maximise their procurement budgets, NHS Supply Chain has shown that challenging the status quo can, and will, deliver considerable savings. 

Identifying the right contract area, engaging with clinical teams and having the necessary support are all key factors that helped Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT save over £600,000 on orthopaedics without compromising quality or patient care. 

The challenge 

Gloucestershire Hospitals is a large acute hospital trust providing high-quality acute elective and specialist care for a population of more than 612,000 across two hospital sites. Like many other NHS providers, it is experiencing unprecedented financial pressures as it continues to protect frontline staff and deliver high-quality care for patients. 

Delivering year-on-year efficiencies from non-pay budgets is essential, with high spend areas like theatres being closely monitored and challenged to demonstrate they are delivering good value for money. 

Given the complexity within theatres, especially within musculoskeletal, it was imperative for the trust to select the right contract area and procurement partner, which would require full clinical engagement across the entire trust. 

The trust’s objective was to realise 10% savings in orthopaedics, whilst ensuring surgeons continued to use top ODEP (Orthopaedic Data Evaluation Panel) rated implants, and ensuring patient safety and outcomes remained unaffected. 

Deborah De Wit, general manager of Theatres, Anaesthetics, Critical Care & Pain at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT, said: “We had to be realistic. What we were looking to potentially do would require a significant clinical change for several consultants, which would require training.” 


Strong clinical engagement, dedicated resource and a close procurement partnership with NHS Supply Chain saw the trust beat its objective to deliver more than £600,000 savings, equating to over 17% annual savings. Here’s how they did it: 

  • Identification of the right contract area with the potential to deliver the required savings: hip and knee
  • Recruitment of a dedicated Specialist Project Lead with procurement expertise reporting to theatres team, providing greater transparency, visibility and support to the surgical teams involved
  • Stakeholder mapping to understand who needed to be involved and when
  • Developing a Clinical Reference Group, to ensure the required clinical input was secured. This included lead surgeons and the orthopaedic directorate as well as the stock control manager; general manager of Theatres, Anaesthetics, Critical Care & Pain; consultant orthopaedic surgeon – Hip Lead; and consultant orthopaedic surgeon – Knee Lead
  • Working collaboratively with NHS Supply Chain gave the trust the flexibility, within an existing national framework, to support their strategy on supply. The trust also benefitted from the expertise of a senior services manager and full trading team to formulate the correct approach and strategy, to maximise saving potential whilst minimising risk
  • Review of data and savings arrangements. Understanding the full scope of savings possibilities was vital. Paul Dennis, senior services manager at NHS Supply Chain, and Michele Woods, the trust’s stock control manager, reviewed the breadth of saving arrangements available to the trust, highlighting what would be involved, the degree of difficulty and savings impact
  • Engaging the suppliers via three-way detailed briefing meetings
  • Going to the market and issuing pricing exercises
  • Presenting findings back to surgical teams to ensure joint understanding
  • Making the decision to award – the final decision being made by the Surgical Board
  • Ongoing support. Once the savings had been identified, to actually ensure they were delivered, NHS Supply Chain committed ongoing contract management support for the life of the contract 

Michelle Woods, stock control manager at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT, said: “NHS Supply Chain’s industry experience and proven success in achieving savings for trusts was vital, assisting us to formulate a strategy and understand the risks and benefits associated with each potential saving option.” 

For both hips and knees, the overwhelming opinion of the surgeons was that the best financial deal would be achieved by moving to a sole supplier. The greatest savings would be possible by moving to the one company, with the risks of doing so discussed and scoped in great depth. The final decision was made by the Surgical Board following input and discussion with all stakeholders, including the submission of additionally requested information and risk assessment. 

Useful insights 

Upfront stakeholder mapping and agreement can be useful. For instance, establishing who needs to be involved, when and at the right time. This secures and maximises support and everyone’s efforts. Getting everyone to agree priorities within a first collaborative meeting is also crucial. 

Also appointing a stock control manager to oversee the project was invaluable from early detailed analysis through to project implementation. Without this post the theatre management team would not have been able to dedicate sufficient time and achieve successful implementation.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Three CCGs slapped with NHS England legal directions

18/08/2017Three CCGs slapped with NHS England legal directions

Three CCGs have been slapped with NHS England legal directions requiring them to produce urgent improvement and financial plans, as well as hire ... more >
Numbers placed into nursing courses drops by 8% since 2016

18/08/2017Numbers placed into nursing courses drops by 8% since 2016

Nurses have today warned that there are not enough new workers being trained to keep pace with demand as UCAS figures showed that there had been ... more >
London trust told to improve for third time in three years

17/08/2017London trust told to improve for third time in three years

A major London NHS trust has been told by inspectors that it needs to urgently improve after it received its third ‘Requires Improvement&rs... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Turbo-boosting STPs? It’s time we got serious about ‘partnership’

27/07/2017Turbo-boosting STPs? It’s time we got serious about ‘partnership’

Merron Simpson, chief executive New NHS Alliance, argues we’re missing the point of what ‘partnership working’ truly means if we refuse to recruit help from those outside the health service. Jeremy Hunt and Simon Steven’s recent announcement to ‘turbo-boost’ sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) provides a welcome shot-in-the-arm for those across the system who are ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >


Improving care at the touch of a screen

08/08/2017Improving care at the touch of a screen

When it comes to dementia, having a calm and safe environment can have a substantial impact on a patient’s quality of life. NHE’s Jos... more >
A new approach to talent management

25/07/2017A new approach to talent management

Martin Hancock, national lead for talent management at NHS Leadership Academy, and Gill Rooke, the organisation’s senior operations manager... more >
Enabling greater integration through ACSs

25/07/2017Enabling greater integration through ACSs

At this year’s NHS Confed, Simon Stevens revealed the first wave of accountable care systems (ACSs). NHE speaks to Ian Dodge, the director ... more >
How NHS organisations can protect themselves against cyber crime

25/07/2017How NHS organisations can protect themselves against cyber crime

On 12 May, a global cyber-attack occurred on an unprecedented scale. It affected organisations across the globe and, though it did not specifical... more >

last word

Your personality, your leadership

Your personality, your leadership

Deirdre Wallace, clinical skills manager at UCL Medical School, discusses the importance of learning about leadership and self while at medical school. Approximately five years ago, I was ch... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

13/06/2017Tackling the major challenges facing the NHS

As you will have gathered from the front cover, a theme that runs throughout this edition of NHE is about empowering and involving the workforce in order to deliver innovative change across the system.  Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, highlights on page 16 the importance of sustainability and trans... read more >

health service focus

Securing the health service with openness and transparency

08/08/2017Securing the health service with openness and transparency

Mike Lees, head of business security at Barns... more >
Transforming health and care: the Dorset story

08/08/2017Transforming health and care: the Dorset story

Phil Richardson, Dorset STP lead director, ex... more >