Clinically-led changes result in savings of more than £450,000 annually for NHS trust

19 March 2021

NHS Supply Chain has worked in partnership with a hospital trust to help them save more than £450,000 annually after a change of supplier for hip and knee products for orthopaedic surgery.

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust who merged in 2019 decided to undertake the orthopaedic project together with support from NHS Supply Chain category manager and clinical engagement and implementation manager.

This enabled them to move to one orthopaedic provider for their hips and knees as soon as they had merged to achieve the best value for the products across both sites. Orthopaedic clinicians led the decision on the new hip and knee providers.

As a result, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust saved £458,060 against a previous annual spend of £1,509,396 – a saving of 30 percent.

They achieved the savings by going from seven different suppliers to one and rationalising the product range for surgeons.

A trust spokesman said: “We worked closely with NHS Supply Chain and the suppliers on this orthopaedic project, to evaluate and rationalise the product range. Their expertise relating to the pricing exercise enabled the timescales to be reduced and the savings were realised earlier than anticipated.”

Emmi Mitrunen, a Category Manager specialising in orthopaedics at NHS Supply Chain, said: “It was very important that the product alternatives were clinically acceptable across both hospital sites. We offered access to a breadth of products and the ability to continue close working relationships with suppliers whilst remaining compliant.”

The trust was supported through the project by Emmi and Ben Harrington, a Clinical Engagement and Implementation Manager who has specialist knowledge of orthopaedic products and a background in orthopaedics theatres.

“We supported the orthopaedic project by working with the clinical teams to understand which suppliers they would be willing to consider as alternatives to their current hip and knee providers,” said Emmi.

The clinicians agreed to look at five different suppliers, who were all invited to present their products at a supplier day. As a result, two suppliers were identified as being able to supply a full range of hips and knees across both sites. Each supplier’s products were trialled at both sites, with one supplier taking part at a time. This enabled all clinicians to participate in the trials.

NHS Supply Chain was able to deliver products, expertise and pricing available under the Total Orthopaedic Solutions Framework.

The standardised compliant process was managed from beginning to end by NHS Supply Chain on behalf of the trust, including providing product analysis, organising meetings and supplier days, providing contract documentation and ensuring everyone involved was kept up-to-date with developments.

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About NHS Supply Chain’s role in the Covid-19 response

  • The Government has set up new PPE Dedicated Supply Channel which is a parallel supply chain to the normal NHS Supply Chain service. It has been set up by Government to meet the urgent volume requirements for core personal protective equipment (PPE) items, allowing NHS Supply Chain to focus on ensuring the supply of medical devices and clinical consumables to our NHS.
  • The Government has set up a dedicated unit to focus on securing supplies of PPE led by the government’s commercial function. This unit is identifying PPE suppliers from across the globe to meet the increasing demand for a growing list of PPE products.  NHS Supply Chain’s PPE buying teams have been seconded to the unit which is led by the government.
  • NHS Supply Chain has expanded its operations to support the stand up of seven NHS Nightingale Hospitals set up across the UK, including NHS Nightingale London, Birmingham, North West (Manchester), Yorkshire and the Humber (Harrogate), Bristol, North East (Washington) and Exeter. Equipment and consumables supplied include ventilators, patient monitors and CT scanners.

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.

Managing more than 4.5 million orders per year, across 94,000 order points and 15,000 locations, NHS Supply Chain systems consolidate orders from over 800 suppliers, saving trusts time and money and removing duplication of overlapping contracts. 

Lord Carter’s report into efficiency and productivity in the NHS, published in 2015, identified unwarranted variation in procurement across the NHS, resulting in the need to improve operational efficiencies to transform a fragmented procurement landscape. To undertake this transformation the Department of Health and Social Care established the Procurement Transformation Programme (PTP) to deliver a new NHS Supply Chain.

The new NHS Supply Chain was designed to help the NHS deliver 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 of £2.4 billion back into NHS frontline services by the end of the financial year 2022/23.

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

Key benefits the NHS Supply Chain will bring NHS trusts and suppliers include:

NHS trusts

  • Savings channelled back to frontline services
  • Releasing more time for core clinical activities
  • Greater NHS clinical involvement in purchasing decision
  • More effective introduction of new products.

Suppliers

  • Lowering sales and marketing costs
  • Single route into the national market
  • A joined-up approach across the NHS
  • Clear route for innovative products.

On 1 April 2018, a new commercially astute management function of the new NHS Supply Chain called Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL) went ‘live’. The management function is responsible in driving strong commercial capability, providing a relentless approach to creating value, gain competitive advantage, become the strategic procurement partner of choice for the NHS, manage the delivery and performance of the Category Tower Service Providers and its enabling logistics and technology services whilst overseeing continuous improvement. SCCL is a limited company, wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, SCCL is part of the NHS family. For more information on our category service tower providers go to  https://www.supplychain.nhs.uk/categories/.

About CaPA

The Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA) team of NHS Supply Chain is key to ensuring that all the products we supply are safe and reflect the needs and preferences of all our NHS partners.

This includes working with our NHS partners such as NHS England, NHS Improvement and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to support the introduction of new technology and innovation into the supply chain that provides demonstrable benefits for our patients and users.

The CaPA team is responsible for three key areas of expertise:

•             Assurance framework

•             Patient safety

•             Innovation