Down the Procurement Pub with the HCSA, Google Maps and Maria McKee

For my last few Down the Procurement Pub photos, I'm looking back on some of the highlights of my time running Spend Matters UK/Europe.

The Real World Procurement / Sourcing workshops we did with BravoSolution – in the UK, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as live events, and then as webinars – are high on that list. So here is a favourite picture of mine, with Guy Allen (my partner in developing and running the sessions) and the wonderful Sarah Clarke of Bravo. Actually, the concept was their idea, not mine, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable programme, working with good people – both those from Bravo and our delegates. The end of year “scholarship” dinners were another highlight, even if the memory was sometimes a little hazy the next morning!

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I very much enjoyed my time at the HCSA conference in Cardiff this week, although I didn’t do as much socialising as usual for various reasons. One was that I had to leave after my session on Wednesday afternoon to drive over to Lincoln for my non-exec board meeting on Thursday, so missed the HCSA gala / awards dinner unfortunately (I am writing this at 11pm on Wednesday in the Ibis Hotel, Lincoln).

Cardiff to Lincoln is not the most straightforward drive (even worse by train, hence my choice of transport), but it made me realise how much we take the mapping and traffic services from Google and others for granted, even though they have only really been ubiquitous for maybe 5 years or so. My phone kept me away from the Severn bridges today (one closed because of wind) and took me through or close to Monmouth, Worcester, Stratford, Coventry, Leicester… basically, don’t go near Birmingham, it was telling me! It wasn’t exactly an easy journey, but I avoided any major hold-ups. We should remember that for all the criticism of social media, smartphones, Google, Apple etc, these firms and their technology have brought us all major benefits too. I’d probably still be sitting on the M6 right now if not for Google Maps!

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It was interesting and reassuring at the HCSA event to hear about the Brexit risk mitigation actions being taken by the Department of Health and the wider NHS network. It is fair to say there is and has been a lot of work going on, looking primarily at the potential impact of a “no deal” Brexit, identifying the key risk areas, products and services and so on. And this isn’t just junior staff; it is clear that many senior and very capable people have been spending a lot of time on these issues. So reassuring – and yet faintly depressing too, in that Brexit is of course distracting our politicians and civil servants from pretty much everything else at the moment.

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So EY didn’t after all win the NHS procurement consulting project that we featured here – Deloitte did. That firm has done pretty well in terms of Department of Health consulting work recently as well but our sources stressed that this was a genuine competition. We’ll come back to the nature of this somewhat mysterious work next week perhaps – it is a little clearer what the “centre” is trying to achieve, but we still have some doubts about the way the objectives are being pursued.

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Proto-Americana country-rockers Lone Justice were one of my favourite bands in the mid-'80s, and Maria McKee remains one of the greatest ever female rock and country voices, a great songwriter, and something of a lost talent really. Some of their early demos have just been re-released which made me look up the videos available on line. Here is one of the best, from Saturday Night Live in 1986, with McKee really giving it some wellie!  She is also a perfect “one hit wonder” in UK pop terms; only one single ever hit the top 30, and it was a huge number 1 – Give Me Heaven, the theme from the film Days of Thunder. Another interesting fact; as far as I know, she only wrote one other song that charted in the UK, and that was another huge number 1 – A Good Heart sung by Fergal Sharkey, which she wrote when she was just 19.

 

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