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News archive - July 2014
Government ‘means business’ with new eProcurement Strategy
Criticism over wasteful procurement processes within the NHS are finally being addressed with the publication of the Government’s long-awaited eProcurement Strategy.
Produced by the Department of Health (DH), the 32-page document comes hot on the heels of the Better Procurement Better Value Better Care report, which was unveiled last August and established a new procurement development programme to help NHS trusts stabilise their non-pay spending so they spend no more than they currently do by the end of 2015/16, thereby realising £1.5billion of efficiencies.
The new strategy mandates the use of global GS1 coding and PEPPOL messaging standards throughout the healthcare sector and its supply chains. Compliance with these standards will enable trusts to manage their non-pay spending through the adoption of master procurement data, automating the exchange of procurement data, and benchmarking procurement expenditure against other trusts and healthcare providers.
Introducing the strategy, Dr Dan Poulter, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, said: “There have been many previous initiatives to realise procurement efficiencies, but this time we mean business and are determined to deliver efficiencies to free up more money for frontline care.”
To embed these standards across the NHS, the Government will centrally fund and procure the critical national infrastructure to support the strategy, which will be interoperable with existing and future local eProcurement systems so that trusts can locally select their preferred technology partners.
Elements of the strategy echo systems already used in other industries including the banking, manufacturing and retailing sectors.
Dr Poulter said: “There is nothing in the strategy that hasn’t already been done in part somewhere, either in the NHS, in another sector or in another country. What is new, however, is bringing all these elements together in one cohesive strategy to improve patient care through a modern, effective and efficient NHS procurement function.”
To coincide with this week’s publication, the DH has written to all NHS trusts asking them to ensure there is a lead non-executive director for procurement who will be asked to hold the board to account for the delivery of the wider procurement development programme, including this NHS eProcurement strategy.
Dr Poulter said: “The ambition of this strategy is for all NHS purchase-to-pay transactions and all category management activities to be undertaken by electronic means to cover all non-pay expenditure. It will take several years of concerted effort across the NHS landscape, and across the NHS supplier base, to achieve this ambition.”
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