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Day in the Life of Tanya Smith

22 February 2024

What’s your name and job title?   

Tanya Smith, Clinical Engagement and Implementation Manager, East of England and East Midlands.

What team do you work in at NHS Supply Chain?

Commercial – MedTech.

What does your typical working day entail?

Everyday is thankfully a little different, depending on whether we are visiting procurement departments/consultants or working from home.

I start the day with a good morning message to the other Clinical Engagement and Implementation Managers (CEIMs) working across the other regions, as well as my fellow colleagues in Orthopaedics and Value Based Procurement. We are a close knit team and catching up each morning is a wonderful start to the day.

Then its onto emails and catch up phone calls before working through some of the projects we have outstanding. My role is largely data driven, involving complex analysis. It could be anything across the range of orthopaedic products that we deal with and the spend value can be small or in the millions depending on the lot and the size of the trust.

Tanya Smith

A major trauma centre dealing with an Internal and External Fixation can be £2-3 million pounds in my region and encompasses over 100,000 separate product lines. So we do a quick sense check of the benchmark that numbers stack up and then off we go.

We manage the data and start to build a template which puts each product back into a construct form, this is where the magic starts to happen. We produce a template of which screws (of differing diameters) match with various plates and nails that are specific to different parts of the body and how many of each type of screw (cortical, cancellous, self tapping, self drilling, variable angle and cannulated) go into any construct to make it viable and realistic for clinical practice across several different suppliers the trust is using.

Once finished, we have a clinically usable construct and a spend value that is correct for the quantities across each supplier. This is what provides the baseline for providing alternatives to encourage and guide trusts to rationalise their spend, making monetary savings, adding value, improving patient safety and decreasing stock errors in theatres, so it’s vital this is correct. Whilst working through these, I will also be managing phone calls, meetings with suppliers, trusts and other stakeholders, and then try to refocus on the data in front of me! At the busiest point this year we had 52 different projects of this type at the same time in the East of England!

At trusts, we meet with procurement teams to discuss spend efficiency reports or a project they may wish to work on. We will meet consultants, theatre managers or operation directors to chat around current usage and what they may want to change or be prepared to look at in the future.

We also hold supplier events where they will set out market type stalls for consultants to visit and discuss the product ranges available. There are equipment demonstrations and trials of products. This is followed by presentations to the consultant body of value-added services and extra value that can be created for the trust. Sometimes I will need to present on the savings potential for a product switch and generally coordinate the event.

Improving patient safety will always be my main motivator, and of course helping the NHS. What would we all do without it?

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

Recently, myself and the other members of our team undertook a project to rationalise Internal/External Fixation, Hips and Knees and Sports Medicine for three separate trusts who had merged to form a single trust. The trusts all had different products from different suppliers and differing viewpoints on what they used and why. The project was complex from this point of view, involving complicated data analysis and finding the right stakeholders to help drive the changes needed.

Once we had the right consultants behind us, we held numerous face to face and Teams meetings. We held evening supplier events to facilitate maximum attendance and engagement. All of this was as trusts were trying to rebuild operating levels to pre-pandemic targets.

The project was successful in the end, achieving a monetary saving of £1.4 million per annum, however, the savings in theatre efficiencies and patient safety were priceless. Theatre staff also had extensive training on new product lines and new suppliers, they now have more time to focus on patients as their is less equipment to prepare and check, and with more efficient systems in place, this allowed the procurement team significantly more time to achieve savings elsewhere.

What job did you to prior to joining NHS Supply Chain? Which previous role did you enjoy the most and why?

Before joining NHS Supply Chain, I held the role of Theatre Manager in the private sector. It was a challenging role that taught me a lot about myself and my resilience. My most enjoyable role will always be my time as an Orthopaedic Theatre Scrub Nurse. Its complex, physically challenging, mentally stimulating and makes a difference to the lives of the patients. As a nurse, patients will always be at the heart of everything I do, even if my role is more distanced from them.

What motivates you?

Patients will always be my main motivation, and of course helping the NHS. What would we all do without it? My proudest moment was when my youngest told a prospective employer, in answer to the question ‘who is your role model?’ he replied ‘my mum, because she works so hard’.

Finally, tell us about yourself!

I am just an old lady now with cocker spaniels, a married mother of 2 boys and ‘Nanma’ to 1 little grandson (so far but hoping for many more). My children keep me grounded, and the challenges and joy that are part of being parent to a neurodiverse child motivates me to help others in the same situation.

I have to admit, after years of lifting patients and heavy instruments it has taken its toll on my back so I’m not as physically active as I would like to be! However, I can normally be found sailing on the Norfolk Broads whenever I can on my 30 foot Freeman motor cruiser and even took her out for a spin the weekend before Christmas!