The clinical voice at the heart of procurement

Source: NHE Sept/Oct 2018

Jo Gander, director of the Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA) team, talks about their role as part of the new NHS Supply Chain.

NHS Supply Chain’s objective is to ensure that patients and Allied Health and Care Professionals (AHCPs) across the health and care system have access to fit-for-purpose, safe, clinically effective, high-quality products at the best value for the NHS. The CaPA, created as part of the new NHS Supply Chain, aims to do just that by ensuring that the AHCP and patient voice is heard throughout the procurement process and beyond.

Where does CaPA fit in the procurement process?

CaPA will play an integral part at every stage of the procurement process moving forward. From approval of the category strategy through stakeholder engagement, product evaluation and the sourcing strategy, CaPA will provide oversight to ensure that products procured on behalf of NHS Supply Chain meet the required standards and reflect the needs of AHCPs, patients, carers and citizens, as well as represent value for money for the health and care system. 

Who is the CaPA team?

The CaPA team launched in April 2018 and is led by me. I qualified as a registered general nurse in 1988 and have held senior roles within the NHS as a commissioning group director, senior programme lead within digital technology and nursing directorates in NHS England, as well as director roles within the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.
As a result of this experience, my ambition is to connect expertise across the health and care system in order to ensure products procured via NHS Supply Chain meet the required standards and represent the needs of end users. 

The role of the CaPA team is to:

  1. To provide governance to support Category Tower service providers’ (CTSPs’) clinical and product evaluation processes. The team will assure that Category Tower service providers have appropriate processes to supply products to the NHS which are fit for purpose, of high quality, and which deliver value to meet the needs of patient care. A product assurance specialist will be allocated to each tower and will work with them to provide expert advice and support to reinforce the procurement process from a clinical perspective. The assurance framework developed by CaPA and the associated clinical evaluation guidance is intended to provide a consistent assurance process across all of the product Category Towers;
  2. To be the clinical voice for the NHS within the management function of the new NHS Supply Chain and national procurement. CaPA will provide the management function with clinical challenge by effectively engaging with health and care stakeholders to ensure their voice is heard in all product procurement decisions. The team will develop tools to facilitate their engagement ambitions and will use a number of communication channels to ensure all who want to be involved have the opportunity to do so. This means that clinicians will have the opportunity to provide feedback on products, product evaluation reports and the online catalogue, as well as inform the future procurement processes;
  3. To provide assurance to the NHS on product safety and efficacy. A key part of CaPA’s role is to develop the confidence of the NHS in the new NHS Supply Chain product range. By seeking feedback on products from frontline clinicians, professional bodies, patient safety and safeguarding colleagues, as well as other key stakeholders, CaPA will ensure their views and concerns are reflected in any new product range selection. They will also be involved in assuring the product ranges suggested by the CTSPs, providing clinical challenge and feedback as appropriate from clinical stakeholders;
  4. To assure clinically informed innovation and policy within procurement. CaPA will engage with the innovation agenda across the health and care system. The aim is to bring a more coordinated approach to assuring that innovative products that meet the needs of the NHS are available via NHS Supply Chain as soon as possible. Innovations come through a range of sources, from suppliers to NHS commissioners and providers to professional organisations like the royal colleges. There are also many organisations involved in progressing innovation, such as NICE, the NHS Innovation Accelerator, the Accelerated Access Partnership, and initiatives such as Getting It Right First Time and NHS RightCare.

CaPA will interface with these and other key partners on behalf of NHS Supply Chain to connect and engage across the health and care system.

They will also work with the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), the Office of Life Sciences, and Health Tech Connect to ensure assurance requirements are consistent across partner organisations. HealthTech Connect and AAC will advise the management function of the new NHS Supply Chain of products that present significant opportunities for the health and care system in relation to improved patient outcomes, product efficacy, and value for money.

Through working with the CTSPs and NHS stakeholders, engaging with clinicians and soliciting feedback and support from the clinical community, CaPA looks to fulfil its aim: to ensure the NHS receives safe, clinically effective and high-quality products at the best value.

We look forward to working with clinicians to gain their support to help them on that journey.


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