NHS Trusts make significant savings through shared procurement approach

Posted on 2nd February, 2017

The Working Together Partnership Vanguard is seven local Acute Trusts, working together to strengthen each organisation's ability to deliver safe, sustainable and local services.

The Partnership has a number of key workstreams, as with such a broad partnership it is necessary to focus on where the most traction towards the objective can be achieved. Joint procurement was chosen as an early priority, pre-dating the Carter review.


Over £1m savings have been made through joint procurement exercises and standardising products across the member Trusts, with the development of a Decision Flow Diagram tool key to enabling the efficiencies.

At the start of the working together programme there was much variation and duplication in procurement processes. Different suppliers were selected for the same product areas, meaning regional economies of scale could not be leveraged with suppliers to reduce cost. Also if clinicians worked across sites they would have to use different products (some of which require training on how to use).

To ensure the best possible results from collaborative procurement, the Heads of Procurement were brought together to lead the process, with significant input from the Working Together Medical Director and the Clinical Reference Group, which includes all of the Medical Directors from the partner Trusts. This strong clinical approach meant that a partnership approach to procurement wasn’t purely about financial gain.

The procurement leads identified a programme of potential joint-procurement exercises to work to. A Decision Flow Diagram tool was then developed. This was able to ensure the best value approach was taken to each procurement, reducing unnecessary duplication of trial and evaluations.

Since the formation of the partnership, a number of joint procurements have taken place. Starting with more straight-forward procurements for uncontroversial products whilst strong relationships across the partnership were built, the partners are now able to approach more complex procurements into products that are historically more difficult to procure for efficiency, such as surgical gloves and sutures.

As well as the innovation in approaching procurement as a group of seven Trusts, the partnership also led the first NHS E-Auction for examination gloves, leading the way for a subsequent national initiative

Not only was the Examination gloves procurement able to make significant savings, it was also able to move the market, creating competitive traction which led the way for a subsequent Department for Health national ‘core range’ initiative.

Over £1m savings have been made through joint procurement exercises and standardising products across the member Trusts, this includes the following cost savings that have been made by working together to procure the best value product and then diffusing it into routine use:

  • Examination gloves                             £430k
  • Medical Pulp                                       £100k
  • Tissue Adhesives                                 £90k
  • Film Dressings                                     £310k
  • Syringes and Needles                          £220k
  • Haemostat                                          £110k
  • Sterile Surgical Gloves (in progress) £320k

This project was awarded second place and highly commended in the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN Innovation, Improvement & Impact Awards.

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