NHSS National Procurement in Partnership with Haven PTS and Dimensions UK Ltd

This is another in our series of reports covering entries from the recent GO Excellence in Public Procurement Awards. They are chosen from categories for which Peter Smith was a judge, so they were studied carefully, and each one is featured based on how interesting we felt it would be for our readers, rather than on whether it won the award (in this case, today’s initiative won a Highly Commended award in the Sustainability/CSR category).

Remploy, which for many years offered employment for disabled people, announced in 2012 they were closing or selling their factories. Haven Products Ltd, the UK division of Rehab Industries, secured the assets and two of the Remploy factories on closure of the business in October 2013. However, a substantial challenge that had to be overcome for Haven Products to be able to make this investment was they required a significant “seed” contract to provide revenue and cash flow during the initial years of this enterprise. The Scottish Government sought support for these endeavours from both the public and private sectors within Scotland.

National Procurement is the centre of procurement expertise for NHS Scotland (NHSS), and was established as part of the wider procurement reform activity across the Scottish Public Sector.  National Procurement seized the opportunity to create, in partnership with Dimensions UK Ltd and Government colleagues, an innovative, viable procurement strategy to use Haven PTS as a key part of the supply chain of uniform products throughout NHS Scotland. Haven now produces a subset of the full range of products offered by Dimensions to their public sector clients.

We spoke to Peter McConnell, Strategic Sourcing Manager of National Procurement at the recent GO Awards evening, and started by asking why they had entered the awards.

“We felt we’d tried to do something different, from a procurement perspective, in addition to  our  normal  focus on quality, service and price. We felt it was innovative, and a great example of a three-way partnership between public sector, a private firm and a third sector organisation.”

“This also satisfied the real business need for high-quality, short-lead time product that Dimensions required as part of their overall offering. In addition, as Haven had just moved to new premises, this provided them with a “seed client” for the new enterprise.”

Are Haven just a standard sub-contractor to Dimensions then?

“No, National Procurement really brought the two organisations together, and Dimensions are now helping Haven with expertise as well. We could not provide that technical and manufacturing  expertise as the contracting  authority, and the success of that is reflected in the very high-quality levels the Haven factories are achieving.”

That is one of the impressive outcomes from this work. As well as a cost-effective solution, Haven are working to very impressive quality levels – and the contract has secured over 50 jobs.  So what are the key points that other public sector buyers might consider from this work?

“The idea of looking at supported or third-sector businesses in terms of which elements within  the supply chain they can support is unusual but effective, we believe. Often, a third-sector organisation won’t be able to do everything the contracting authority wants. But if you can design the supply chain to take advantage of their skills in the right areas, then that can be good news for everyone.”

So think about supply chains, don’t just assume a standard tender is the right way to go – think about how diverse suppliers might play a role. Good advice for everybody, and as McConnell says, “there are opportunities now for Haven to do more, and we are looking at how we can include other supported businesses in relevant supply chains too.”

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