NHS procurement

Improving the lives of the people in our places through place-based procurement

Place-based procurement is a strategic approach that provides benefits for healthcare systems, value for the taxpayer and serves as a catalyst for economic development. Stuart Watkins, Health Business Manager at Crown Commercial Service explains the importance of place-based procurement and offers key considerations for developing successful policies

Place-based procurement is about understanding the issues, interconnections and relationships in a place and coordinating commercial action and investment to improve the quality of life for people. 

Beyond health outcomes, place-based procurement has the power to shape the broader landscape by encompassing social value, carbon neutrality, interoperability and sustainable economic benefits.

All the places that make up our diverse communities will have different health and social care models to meet their specific local needs. This gives rise to both Integrated Care System (ICS) place-based procurement challenges and opportunities.  

The benefits of place-based procurement

  • efficiency and cost savings: standardisation and place-based Cost Improvement Programmes (CIPs) of clinical pathways ensure the best possible outcomes for patients, place-based partnerships and the taxpayer
  • patient and community centred care: investing in place-based digital health services ensures the provision of accessible, patient-centred care at home or in other community settings
  • tackling health inequalities head-on: place-based procurement strategies directly address disparities by aggregating social value and sustainability requirements and helping ICSs improve access, outcomes and experiences

Considerations for your ICS board’s place-based procurement policy

Each region will have different strategies based on its unique goals and circumstances. The following place-based procurement strategies are helpful approaches for ICSs.

National procurement aggregation initiatives: A simple way to save costs and improve procurement efficiency is through collective buying. When you combine your own buying needs with those of other organisations across the public sector, you tap into savings not possible when buying individually. CCS runs ongoing aggregation programmes for goods and services including IT hardware, mobile services, and utilities. Joining an aggregation enables your ICS and place committees to combine local requirements with other ICSs nationally, ensuring economic value and favourable terms.

Regional collaboration: Working together with regional NHS trusts, schools, science networks and universities helps develop and procure innovation. These contracts allow a lead group, or authority, to source goods and services for everyone within the ICS. This means that economies of scale can be achieved. 

Harnessing data-led procurement: ICSs are investing in data analytics to inform procurement decisions and enable them to secure sustainable procurement value. 

We understand that this is a critical area for the NHS. It is the foundation of developing an efficient, effective and economic commercial strategy, both nationally and locally. In this context, CCS has provided £12.8 million of funding over 3 financial years to support the rollout of the Atamis e-commerce system. 69% of NHS organisations are already signed up, with a target of 90% by 2025. 

Empowering local small and medium enterprises: Prioritising local SMEs aligns with ICS goals, supporting community growth. This creates business opportunities and also supports local development and reduces environmental effects from distant supply chains.

How CCS can help

Our latest whitepaper, ‘Place-based procurement strategies for Integrated Care Systems’, aims to enable ICSs to optimise every pound spent, address their communities’ unique needs and maximise the health and wealth of the regions they serve. You can download the guide from the CCS website.

Image credit: iStock

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