BravoSolution comments on the NHS eProcurement strategy

We featured the new eProcurement strategy for the NHS (National Health Service) a few weeks back, and it was even a hot topic of discussion for various delegates at last week’s recent e-Public Procurement Conference in Lisbon. Whilst applauding the strategy’s intent, we have concerns about a number of features, perhaps most of all whether the Department of Health has understood the resource that will be needed just for 'the centre' to fulfil the role they are looking to undertake.

One firm that knows the NHS procurement and procurement technology environment very well is BravoSolution, probably market leaders in that sector in terms of sourcing and spend analysis work, delivered via their BravoHealth practice, led by Scott Pryde.  So it’s been interesting to read a series of posts from Pryde on Bravo’s Strategic Sourcing blog all concerning the NHS strategy.

There is a sense at times in his pieces that he is being a touch cautious – let's be honest, he's not going to be too critical of his major client group. When he says in part 1,It will be interesting to see how these challenges are overcome”, in the context of implementing GS1 coding for Trusts that aren’t very advanced currently, you might read between the lines in terms of how he is thinking! But in that piece, he comes out very much in favour of the GS1 approach, pointing out that traceability is stronger in many other sectors – even in cattle management – than in the health service.

In part 2, focused on Procurement Intelligence and Transparency, he talks about the balance between what can be done at the centre and what has to be done locally. e points out that spend analysis is wider than might be first apparent: Full procurement intelligence includes not only the invoice and PO data, but extends to other wider contextual information. Market intelligence, category strategies and contracts and contact with the originating organisation are all essential to understand why prices and volumes are as we find them in the raw data and to discover real savings opportunities.

This is the main area where I’m not sure if Pryde would like to say more – I’m not quite sure whether he really thinks this mega-spend analysis programme is doable or not. that's the big question in my mind.

Part 3 is probably the most thought provoking of his pieces. He talks about how the most forward thinking  Trusts are using advanced tools to share data and knowledge internally and externally, looking forward to a “virtual procurement landscape where access to not only data but also information and knowledge is a given. Where expertise is no longer in a single trust or hub but where the expertise of an individual can be more effectively shared throughout the system”.

Pryde also makes the point that the strategy does not really address primary care, social care and commissioning – it is very much focused on spend within hospitals. Now of course that is a large enough task in itself, and  we wouldn’t criticise the Department of Health for not developing an even broader strategy, but as Pryde says, “we have found that the worst procurement data and information gap across the whole public sector is in primary and social care. This data deficit may indicate a deeper problem, the absence of strong commercial governance and sustainability”.

So there would seem to be big opportunities there, but as with the entire strategy, the implementation is going to take time, resource, money and effort. Does the Department of Health have the appetite for this? We’ll see over the next couple of years, but in the meantime it’s worth taking a look at the BravoSolution blogs if yo’re interested in this topic.

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Voices (2)

  1. Sam Unkim:

    Bravo, selling a Rolls-Royce, when the NHS needs a Mondeo.

    1. Scott Pryde:

      Sam – I don’t know if you have seen our solution , but it would be good to have a chance to discuss it with you in more detail and I’m sure we could show you that it provides value for money – as well as vitally useful data to help Trusts manage their spend better.

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