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About NHS Supply Chain

NHS Supply Chain manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products, services and food for NHS trusts and healthcare organisations across England and Wales.

NHS Supply Chain manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products, services and food for NHS trusts and healthcare organisations across England and Wales.

We are part of the NHS family, managing more than 7.7 million orders per year across 129,420 order points and 16,705 locations. We deliver over 35 million lines of picked goods to the NHS annually, and our systems consolidate orders from over 930 suppliers.

This enables us to bring value to our NHS partners, including saving time and money in removing duplication of overlapping contracts.

Our business plan

Our business plan for the current year describes how as an organisation, we commit to playing our part in supporting the NHS to deliver safe and excellent patient care.

Our priorities will focus on the following areas:

  • Partner with trusts to deliver excellent patient care
  • Improve the way we work with trusts
  • Embed category strategy excellence, whilst driving savings
  • Strengthen resilience
  • Develop our data strategy, and pilot value use cases
  • Create the future.

Our six priorities identified for 2022 – 2023 will ensure that we continue to deliver the products and services needed by the NHS, both now and in the future.

Working in partnership – our management function

Delivering transformation cannot be done in isolation. We work closely with NHS trusts, service providers and all of our stakeholders as we play our part in supporting the NHS.

Our business model is underpinned by a commercially astute management function called Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL), to oversee continuous improvement of the NHS Supply Chain operating model.

This helps to ensure supply chain excellence and the delivery of value to NHS customers. We are committed to becoming the strategic procurement partner of choice for the NHS by evolving services and making them fit for the future, in line with the needs of the NHS and in a sustainable way.

Our business model and category towers

The NHS Supply Chain operating model, launched fully in 2019, is aligned to the independent review of unwarranted variation in procurement by Lord Carter of Coles, across a fragmented NHS procurement landscape.

Our aim is to deliver savings and provide a standardised range of clinically assured, quality products at the best value through a range of specialist buying functions. Its aim is to leverage the buying power of the NHS to negotiate the best deals from suppliers and deliver savings back into NHS frontline services.

The model consists of specialist buying functions, known as Category Towers, delivering clinical consumables, capital medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and non-medical products such as food and office solutions. Two enabling services for logistics and supporting technology underpin the model.

Clinical expertise

Clinical expertise runs through the whole of the organisation, with clinical colleagues working collaboratively with procurement specialists, ensuring all new frameworks are quality assured via our Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA) function.

Supply chain resilience

In common with other healthcare organisations, our experience through COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to ensure we have a resilient supply chain and have put in place measures to increase the resilience of our supply chain which serves every NHS trust. 

We continue to monitor and where necessary increase stockholding levels in our warehouses and with our suppliers for high demand product categories. This helps ensure that products are available to order. 

Enabling collective procurement for Integrated Care Systems

One of the impacts seen over the last year has been the acceleration towards system working in line with the ambition set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. As NHS trusts continue to work regionally with their health and care partners to drive greater value through working together, our aim is to work with Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to develop and test Integrated Care System level solutions that align with their clinical and procurement objectives.

Over the short-term we are looking to:

  • Ensure that our customer facing teams focus on Sustainability Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and ICSs to enable engagement and system working.
  • Explore an ICS level pilot opportunity on wound care.
  • Scale our reporting capabilities to ICS level (in addition to trust level).
  • Continue to add new savings opportunities, such as National Pricing Matrices auto-enrolment for STPs/ICSs.

To deliver safe patient care and to provide value for healthcare organisations, we are keen to explore opportunities to work with collaboratives of trusts and ICSs to enable collective procurement opportunities with the involvement of clinicians.