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Strategic review of UK procurement hubs “justified”

A strategic review of UK collaborative procurement hubs (CPHs) is justified even though the overarching Supply Chain Excellence Programme (SCEP) is incomplete, according to the UK Department of Health (DoH).

CPHs are regional purchasing organisations which aim to gain the best value for money for the £15bn the NHS spends each year on goods and services. They were set up by the DoH’s Commercial Directorate in 2004 as part of SCEP.

The DoH was responding to a challenge from the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), an organisation of suppliers of assistive technology products and services to the NHS.

BHTA director-general Ray Hodgkinson said the DoH had told his organisation the review was timely because NHS reforms were gathering momentum, with more NHS hospital trusts moving to foundation status and so being able to implement their own procurement strategies.

“They have also said CPHs are at different levels of maturity and a review will ensure best practice throughout and inform the strategies of newly established CPHs,” Mr Hodgkinson added.

“Our belief is that a review is necessary but could have been predicted three years ago without considerable disruption to a large number of NHS employees.”

“There is a strong belief amongst our members that the current procurement model is counterproductive and that such a high level of service value requires a fresh approach,” Mr Hodgkinson said.

“We have always had concern about the programme and some of the methods used, not least relating to the respective roles of the CPHs and DHL/Novation, to whom the programme was outsourced.”

He added: “We note there will be an opportunity for stakeholder input and this will be welcomed as there is particular concern in the sector which our association represents.”