Q&A with Del Toomey, Procurement Systems Support Officer at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
Could you start by giving me a bit of background on you and your role?
My name is Del Toomey, and I’m a Systems Support Officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust. I’ve been employed by the trust for around eight years, and I have worked my way up from Procurement Apprentice to my current position. My role covers all areas of procurement, but on a day-to-day basis, my main priorities are system administration and data analytics, as part of my responsibility to deliver usage and spend reports to the wider procurement team.
What led you to work in procurement?
I have always found procurement very interesting – from the moment I first learned about it, I was eager to learn more. Before starting my role at Queen Elizabeth, I worked for a warehousing and logistics company in Essex, and found the job very monotonous compared to the diverse nature of the work I do now. Entering the procurement world from a data perspective was something fresh and exciting, and it is something I am tremendously passionate about to this day.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Right now, the NHS procurement is going through a lot of change, which can present challenges. The majority of the change we are seeing is undeniably positive such as bringing data to the forefront of decision-making and modernising the back-end of our procurement systems, but we are still trying to wrap our heads around how to complete these steps effectively. Part of the problem is a lack of education, with many of us learning on the job, which I am hoping will change in the near future.
Do you think procurement data and analytics are used effectively across the NHS?
We have come a long way since I first started working for the NHS, but at the moment, data and analytics aren’t being used as well as they could be. That being said, the recent direction of travel is really positive, and I am encouraged by the new sense of impetus with regards to changing the way data is perceived and utilised across the health and care estate, not just in procurement. Over the past decade or so, lots of new ideas have come to the fore, but they have always been optional, and seen as an unnecessary cost to those uneducated about the value of data and analytics. And while there is still a lack of education amongst decision makers and those working in procurement, attitudes are shifting and important conversations are being had by the right people in the public domain. I am optimistic for the future.
How long have you been working with AdviseInc?
We have been working with the AdviseInc for more than five years. To begin with, we rolled out price benchmarking, which was in its infancy at the time, but my relationship with Mat and Phil dates back to when I was a junior buyer on the Health Care Supply Association training programme. They were hosting a session on best practice for PPI, which made a huge impression on me and was a significant factor in my decision to move away from buying and into procurement analytics – I owe them for that! Since then, I have stayed in regular contact with the AdviseInc team, and I am always eager to find out what they are working on.
What does your relationship with AdviseInc look like, and how has it developed over time?
We have a really positive working relationship with AdviseInc. We have regular calls to discuss Procurement Dashboard, and how to get the best value out of the software. More recently, our conversations have centred around a series of projects we will be working on, and they have been advising us on how best to approach them from a data and analytics perspective. Equally, they come to us for advice on some of their latest developments, which we are more than willing to offer. The support they provide is less of a “service”, and more of a collaboration between our team and theirs.
What does the future of NHS procurement look like and how do you see your relationship with AdviseInc evolving in the future?
That’s a difficult question to answer because the landscape is always evolving. One thing is for certain though: Control Tower will be a key>part of our procurement operation. From what I have seen from the solution, it is going to make it far easier for us to drill down into our data and simplify our analysis, so that it is more accessible and easier to decipher. One of the main frustrations I face in my role is the user-interface on some of our systems, which can make data analytics quite daunting, and we are often lumbered with the task of sifting through large volumes data to make sense of it. When Control Tower launches, bringing everything together in one place, it’s going to make a huge impact.
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