First Impressions from the HCSA Conference – and Congrats to the Award Winners!

I could only get to the Healthcare Supplies Association conference for the last few hours of the two-day event, including the slot on the agenda which was for me of course. The event had a good turn-out; there were around 200 people packing the room when I arrived yesterday with a high proportion of the CPO level community in the sector present (although with a few notable absentees).

But I did catch a handful of other presentations before my effort, firstly from Owen Inglis Humphrey on the GS1 and Peppol initiatives going on in the sector. I don't pretend to undestand all of that detail, but he is certainly someone who understands this subject very thoroughly (and I told him it was time he wrote something for us again).

Then we had Stephen Dangerfield, CEO of NHS Professionals talking about the controls on the use of temporary (agency) staff in the NHS. He did not mention the words "supply and demand" once that I can recall or discuss the economics of the market, which seemed a bit of an omission, but there were other interesting elements. I had no idea for instance that the new spend controls apply to interim finance, IT or indeed procurement professionals rather than just medical staff. Those controls mean that you should not be paying an interim more than 50% more than the equivalent permanent staff. So if a procurement interim is doing a job that pays a permanent employee, say, £35K a year, you should not pay them more than about £240 a day.

As one head of procurement said to me "that ain't gonna happen"! It's just not the market rate. So expect to see pretty much every Trust reporting exemptions to the policy to Monitor, which may quickly make it pretty meaningless.

Then we had Pat Mills, the Commercial Director at the Department of Health. I haven't heard him speak before - his style might be described as thoughtful and measured rather than inspiring, but he went down well and we got good comments from most delegates later about his speech, although it was more about intentions than delivery to date. But people seemed to appreciate his honesty, and there was some dry humour too, as he expressed some surprise about elements of the Spending Review announcements we heard this week! More from his session next week.

It is also a great event for gossip, and some of that related to the outputs from the Carter Review that individual Trusts have now received. Unfortunately, from a small sample of three, the reaction of procurement heads is "this is useless". The base data is poor or worse, and the recommendations (other than in some cases saying that more procurement people are needed) seem not very helpful. "There is only one page out of 100 devoted to procurement" - which confirms our feeling that what started as a procurement review has ended up possibly having value in other efficiency areas, but very little in procurement.

More happily, the dinner and awards evening was very impressive, Simon Walsh showed again that his future career as a stand-up or indeed events host awaits, and there were over 250 people packed into the room. Here are the winners and highly commended, and our congratulations to all of them!

Procurement development programme award

Ash Fraser and Jessica Crolla (HC)
Claire Dalton (winner)

Procurement and supply chain management collaboration award

NHS Wales Shared Services partnership (HC)
North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (winner)

Excellence in health care commissioning

Devon CCG + South Central and West CSU New Devon Community Hub (HC)
NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (winner)

Sustainability

NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (winner)

Supply Chain Excellence

Ann Shaw (HC)
Richard Ward* (winner)

Emerging Talent

Nicco Varela (HC)
Mark Logan (winner)

Procurement and Supply Chain Team Award

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (HC)
Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust (winner)

* I haven't really met Richard previously, so was pleased to spend a few minutes with him - what a great advert for NHS procurement he is!

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