Top 5 challenges facing NHS procurement

20 February 2023 by Mat Oram

Working closely with NHS procurement teams day in and day out, we take an active role in listening to the many challenges they face, so that we can find new and innovative ways to support them. But what are the biggest challenges facing NHS procurement across the country? We spoke with some of the brightest minds in healthcare procurement to find out…

1. Identifying cost-saving opportunities

Needless to say, identifying cost-saving opportunities is fundamental to the work of procurement professionals in any walk of life, but in the current economic climate, doing so is easier said than done. “”The biggest challenge is the ability for procurement and NHS teams to find and deliver new cost-saving opportunities,”” explained Ben Shaw, Director of Productivity at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. “This is where the AdviseInc tool really comes into its own. It enables us to identify new cost-saving opportunities across the organisation from a non-paid perspective and through their support, they help us to deliver on them.”

2. Post-pandemic recovery

As you might expect, many of our customers and colleagues from across the NHS are still negotiating the backlog of problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The current challenges faced by NHS procurement are huge,”” said Andy Smallwood, Assistant Director of Procurement Services at NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership.  “Post-pandemic and recovery activity is putting a significant amount of pressure on NHS finances, and the world is a far busier place for procurement. Rich data has helped us enormously across Wales for both our local and national teams, and a combination of Price Benchmarking and Procurement Dashboard, have enabled us to identify and deliver an additional £640,000 worth of savings in the last financial year alone.” 

3. Supply chain resilience 

Another challenge our customers regularly voice relates to the supply chain, as Simon Clarke, Managing Director of the Birmingham and Solihull Procurement Collaborative, explained: “One of the biggest challenges is resilience and the supply chain. Having a better understanding of who we are buying from and where we are buying from has really assisted us to look at where we can maximise that leverage and that shared responsibility, especially against an integrated care system. What AdviseInc has allowed us to do is look at those hidden savings that are clearly there for every one of us to see, but we were too much in the detail and couldn’t see it ourselves.” 

4. Data quality 

Despite mentioning supply chain issues, for Sue Colbeck, Associate Director of Procurement at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUFT), data analysis is the number one issue facing procurement teams: “Not having the ability to really understand the granular detail of our spend data is our main issue, which is why our relationship with AdviseInc is so important. We can now see line level detail, which we wouldn’t previously have had without asking our team to scramble through spreadsheets. By switching products that we were buying directly through supply chain, we have delivered over half a million pounds worth of savings back into the trust.”

5. Staffing

The recruitment and retention of staff is a key>issue for the NHS, with focus being placed on securing a skilled and sustainable workforce for the future. And for Rob Webb, Director of Procurement for Bath Swindon and Wiltshire ICS, recruitment is a key>issue for NHS procurement: “One of my main challenges is the number of staff we have available. We often struggle to recruit good candidates because of the salaries in the NHS compared to the wider procurement market, and so often we run with quite a few vacancies. The analytical support we receive as part of the AdviseInc PD+ package has helped to alleviate some of these recruitment pressures – AdviseInc work with us as a much-needed extension of our team.”Our team works tirelessly to support healthcare organisations, helping them to overcome challenges daily. As an extension of your team, our goal is to find value in your procurement data, to identify cost-saving opportunities and alleviate any pressures you may have.

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