NHS SBS helps support NHS efforts at home and abroad

Experts from the NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) have been working around the clock to support the emergency response to coronavirus both at home and abroad, helping to equip the new NHS Nightingale hospitals here in the UK, as well as supporting the procurement of emergency goods in the British territory of Gibraltar.

With the first NHS Nightingale hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester now up and running, and others around the UK set to follow suit in the coming days and weeks, it has both required and demonstrated the incredible effort across a variety of sectors and professions, who have come together to help build the field hospitals at remarkable speed.

Typically, purchasing the products and equipment needed for what will be, when working at full capacity, one of the world’s largest hospitals, it would usually take a period of over 18 months. Yet, with NHS procurement professionals working round-the-clock, the new NHS Nightingale London was ready to admit it first patients within just two weeks.

NHS SBS has been directly involved in that success, stepping up in its role as a transactional procurement service for NHS England and rapidly processing millions of pounds of orders, whilst simultaneously moving to home-working environments for its staff, to help those behind the new facilities achieve the seemingly impossible.

READ MORE: NHS SBS working to ‘maintain the level of support the NHS needs’

READ MORE: NHS SBS: A 21st Century NHS

In Manchester, NHS SBS was heavily involved in the planning, sourcing and equipping of the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West, which too is now open to patients, working as a partner to the procurement department from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Supply Chain. An experienced NHS SBS capital team worked on site for the project to rapidly source all of the equipment needed to open the 648-bed hospital within a swift timeframe.

Drawing on its extensive market knowledge and supplier relationships, the NHS SBS procurement team helped to ensure the new Manchester hospital got what it needed ready for opening. This included over one hundred volumetric infusion pumps, oxygen cylinders, controlled drugs cabinets, and other difficult to source items due to the current Covid-19 market conditions.

Coronavirus has been a worldwide health challenge and NHS SBS expertise has been drawn on beyond the British Isles too, with the organisation stepping in to assist the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) in its response to Covid-19, helping to facilitate additional medical supplies being shipped to the British Overseas Territory.

In preparation for this, procurement experts at NHS SBS have been assisting the UK government in efforts to source a range of essential healthcare products, including BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) hoods and oxygen concentrators, which can be used to treat Covid-19 patients in Gibraltar.

More generally, for NHS organisations which use the NHS SBS procurement service, a new system has also been implemented to prioritise emergency Covid-19 related items – activity which is over and above the organisation’s normal processing of high volume clinical goods.

READ MORE: Cabinet Office issues procurement cards guidance to support suppliers

READ MORE: NHS SBS: Insourcing in the NHS

Since the beginning of March, more than 430 orders have been processed in this way, accounting for millions of pounds worth of additional goods.

Phil Davies, Director of Procurement at NHS SBS, said: “The speed of response needed across the NHS procurement sector to support the frontline and get the new NHS Nightingale hospitals up and running quickly has been quite incredible.

“We’ve been pleased to be able to put our experience to good use in supporting the national effort.

“Our procurement team has extensive knowledge of the NHS supplier market through our framework portfolio, and relationships that have been established over many years – both of which are invaluable for a time-critical emergency response like this.

 “In helping to set up the new Nightingale hospitals in a such a short space of time, we’ve also been able to draw on what we’ve learned from our involvement in planning the new specialist Clatterbridge cancer centre, which is due to open in Liverpool later this year.”


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