Our HCSA CPO Mole — Proud About Procurement

Following the NHS procurement conference of the year, the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) event in November, our anonymous CPO mole from the HCSA gives us his thoughts on some of the issues that came up in the presentations. 

I posed myself a number of questions pre-conference that are burning issues across the profession, and have probably been unanswered for more years than they should.

We began with a standing-room-only Scott Pryde/Andy McMinn (BravoHealth/Plymouth) special, ably assisted by Ruth Allen (Heart of England), Rob Drag (Salisbury), Alison Rooke (Hampshire) and Mark Walker of BravoHealth.

Scott, one of the more popular exports from across the wall has galvanised a progressive cohort of Trusts into obsessing about data, outcomes and delivering some pretty impressive savings. Normalising and purifying mucky data isn’t easy. Translating it into something that interacts with procurement and non-procurement alike is even harder, however, BravoHealth and the evangelist Trust’s have done just that.

Ruth Allen (Heart of England) presented an impressive set of numbers around implant performance and price. The ability to create empirical models to drive multi-Trust collaboration and manage expectations and behaviours of execs and clinical staff is here, and is being exploited.

If anyone doubted that we have world-class procurement professionals after seeing this session then they really are burying their heads in the sand.

I was a bit confused as to why the DH hasn’t taken more interest in this brilliant game changer and found John Warrington’s one and only question disappointing and a little dismissive. I am now overwhelmed with a sense of relief that this bottom-up initiative has developed and is nurtured by folk in love with what they do. I’m expecting Scott and his cohort to evolve the systems interactive social media elements, making old fashioned organisational structures more like dying dinosaurs.

The HCSA used to resemble a Grecian 2000 salesman’s bonus in years gone by. Under the dry and humorous reign of Simon Walsh its image softened and has started to attract greater interest. Now with a far healthier group of women on the Council and Helen Lisle at the helm I’m expecting real development in the profession, and I’d hope a closer relationship with Mick Guymer (ex CMT CFO and procurement evangelist) of NWPD to develop. Mick has some really practical ideas about raising standards and I hope for an integrated approach over the coming months and years.

Talking of Finance, we were treated to 25 minutes from David Melbourne (CFO and acting CX of Birmingham Children’s and Women’s). David chairs the Central England NHS Customer Board and unlike other parts of the English NHS has taken the novel approach of filling it with Procurement professionals (asking our opinion will never catch on David!).

David spoke broadly about his role at HFMA and how it was about time we did something similar. He spoke about the inevitability of smaller Trusts having to buddy up with larger ones and in some detail about the work Dave Coley of Heart of England is doing around measuring procurement structures and technology deployment and how performance can be improved. He said that he was going to support Dave in providing West Mid’s Execs with the analytical tools to understand what they do with their Lord Carter numbers. I would imagine some Trusts have  pretty uninspiring Board leads so I think the Davids will have their work cut out on that one!

So I’ll take a bow for another year and congratulate everyone who presented. Spend Matters’ word count simply doesn’t give time to wax lyrically about the pride I feel listening to all of the energetic and pretty smart folk I count as colleagues, nor can I air my views on all of the issues I had hoped to.

I was clearing out some old papers at work and stumbled across a copy of Goods for Your health (1996) and initially felt a bit depressed that in close on 20 years a lot of the same issues still hamper our delivery and the perception held of us. I then reflected on the great strides Trusts are making in pretty difficult circumstances and thought, ‘yes we know what we can be and are actually doing it in a way other health economies don’t.”

Have a great Christmas.

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