A Day in the Life of…

16 February 2022

What is your name and job title?

Andrew Walsh, Category Procurement Specialist for Medical Healthcare Furniture at NHS Supply Chain: Hotel Services.

I started this role in September 2018. Before that I worked in what was known as NHS Supplies, starting that role in October 1997.

What team do you work in?

I am part of the procurement team providing the Hotel Services Category Tower Service at NHS Supply Chain.

Ultimately what drives me the most is having an impact on the lives and care of patients, service users and the NHS workforce.

What does your typical working day entail?

I spend a lot of my time supporting trusts to find exactly what they need to meet their requirements.

My day-to-day activities include advising trusts on medical furniture product options, using my 25 years of knowledge and experience to suggest areas of innovation, and providing general guidance to help trusts better understand the scope and specifications of products they require. Alongside this I frequently request quotes from suppliers on behalf of trusts or help them to find alternative solutions to their individual challenges.

Another key part of my role involves managing supplier compliance and the product range offered through the Medical Healthcare Furniture framework to ensure the right products are available.

Andy Walsh

How has the pandemic affected your work?

During the height of the pandemic, I was part of the team that supported the set-up of the Nightingale hospital sites. We worked to source clinical products to equip these centres such as drip stands and resus trolleys. We had to react quickly to requests and manage the logistics of getting these products to the right places.

This was all happening at the same time as a big shift in working environment for me personally, moving from the office to home working. It was very challenging at times but the outcome was incredibly rewarding.

One thing that stood out during this time was the importance of having a good relationship with suppliers. The time and effort we had put into developing these relationships helped hugely when it came to sourcing products with little notice. It allowed us to simply pick up the phone and start an open conversation in a smooth and effortless way, which saved a considerable amount of time.

I want to say a huge thank you to the suppliers for all their support. They stood up to the task during a time that was equally as difficult for them and the fact they delivered proves the resilience of NHS Supply Chain.

Please give an example of a successful project you have recently been involved in and what was the value for the customer?

I recently supported Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in sourcing and purchasing furniture suitable for the new Children and Young Peoples’ Mental Health Service (CYPMHS) inpatient unit for West Yorkshire called Red Kite View. The project involved working with the trust to identify the products they needed and supporting them in pulling this information together for the suppliers to provide quotes. I then arranged for suppliers to show their products to the trust, which we managed to undertake during the pandemic. The site has recently opened and it has been immensely satisfying to see the outcome of the work we did together.

I really enjoy getting my teeth into these projects, seeing them through from beginning to end, and helping trusts to save time, money and staffing resource.

Each project is different and comes with its own unique set of challenges. I would always recommend trusts set up a project team bringing together everyone with a role to play. For example, end users and clinical staff, moving and handling teams, patient safety teams, infection control specialists, procurement teams or buyers, and, where appropriate, patients and service users.  

What motivates you?

I love to do show and tell sessions with trusts where I showcase products available, and pre-pandemic I frequently did. These sessions are useful not only for trusts but for me too, each time I pick up challenges and the solutions to them, which I retain and use in future projects to support other trusts.

My mantra is making sure trusts have the right product, in the right place, at the right price. Ultimately what drives me the most is having an impact on the lives and care of patients, service users and the NHS workforce. Everything we do is for the benefit of trusts and patients and doing something as small as helping to procure the perfect chair, which can be used by somebody who is potentially in pain to get a little comfort – well what more motivation could you need?

Our level involvement with trusts can be whatever they are looking for, whether that’s getting them started or seeing the whole project from beginning to end. Being able to utilise our experience and expertise to support, then seeing a successful and effective outcome is the biggest reward.