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Introducing Our New Commercial Executive Director

18 June 2024

NHS Supply Chain has appointed Richard Evans as its new commercial executive director.

With 20 years’ experience in procurement and commercial management across the public and private sectors, Mr Evans will lead the continued transformation of commercial capabilities at NHS Supply Chain.

Mr Evans will oversee the 500 strong commercial function of the organisation, with a focus on standardisation and simplification to create value and deliver optimal supply chain solutions for patient care. Following significant change over the past 18 months, where more than 450 colleagues from eight outsourced procurement teams were brought in house, Mr Evans will oversee the continued evolution of NHS Supply Chain’s operating practices to reduce complexity, grow capabilities and employ best practices across the commercial directorate.

Head and shoulders image of Richard Evans

He joins NHS Supply Chain from an executive leadership role at global procurement and supply chain consultancy Proxima and has worked across sectors including retail, financial services, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, covering value delivery, supply chain assurance and both cost and operating model transformation.

NHS Supply Chain’s chief executive Andrew New welcomed Mr Evans and said his appointment would be crucial in delivering NHS Supply Chain’s ambitions including embedding commercial excellence, driving savings and realising value-based procurement.

I’m delighted to welcome Richard to our executive team. His role is key to supporting the delivery of our ambitious strategy of growth and savings delivery, as we align to the changing needs of the NHS.

Andrew New, CEO, NHS Supply Chain

We caught up with Mr Evans who shared his thoughts on a number of key topics.

Supplier Relationship Management

SRM is really important – having a structured approach that adds value. Once an agreement has been reached with a supplier, it’s about how both parties can extract the most value out of it, whether that’s on the products that they’re supplying, what their plans are for sustainability or the long list of value releasing options. It’s not about having meetings for the sake of meetings. It’s about driving value generation and how you go about delivering it.

Top messages for suppliers

1. Work with us on the information and detail that we absolutely need to make SRM successful.

2. Once a plan has been agreed, let’s stick to it.

3. Continue to be open-minded. Think about the things you could do for us, how you could do them and how you might be able to challenge us to be better to ensure we deliver the optimum value in the NHS.

New suppliers

As a supplier, NHS Supply Chain provides a massive opportunity. We are moving to a point where we will be the most valued and trusted route for the NHS to acquire what they need.

We’re One NHS and we provide the assurance that what our customers are buying is tried, tested and safe. Where a supplier is looking to expand existing business, we can not only protect the business they’ve already secured, but help it grow in volume or across other product lines due to the visibility, insight etc. they will have access to.

The importance of data

If adding value to a supplier relationship is the most important thing about SRM, data is the second most important aspect. We can talk and hypothesise about things but if we have the data to prove there’s a problem, that’s worth its weight in gold. Additionally, if we can’t access the data to provide quality catalogues and buying channels for our customers, everyone loses.

Over the coming months, I’m going to be talking to suppliers about a number of things as we look to mature and develop our relationships, key though will be the importance of having complete and accurate data, in an operational sense, so you’ll be hearing more on this soon.

It is fantastic to join NHS Supply Chain at such an important time of change. I am excited and look forward to working with colleagues, suppliers and customers to transform NHS Supply Chain’s commercial capabilities and support the NHS and its patients by simplifying what is a complex healthcare supply chain.

Richard Evans, Commercial Executive Director, NHS Supply Chain

Value-based procurement and innovation

Suppliers provide another lens through which to look at innovation in terms of what they are developing or insight they have gathered. This could be founded on a need or on something they believe can be improved. Suppliers will get direct customer feedback, not just from our customers and clinicians, but worldwide.

Value-based procurement is, in its simplest terms, a better way of doing something which releases value in monetary or operational terms. And everyone who has a view on how things could be done better, should contribute, it’s a joint responsibility. Whilst it’s difficult to make this an obligation, we will very much be looking for this from suppliers who are awarded frameworks or awarded the outcome of procurements, and those who truly wish to partner with the NHS.

We’re really looking to our suppliers to harness their global network so we get a view of what’s happening in terms of innovation and value-based procurement around the world.

Working with suppliers

As an organisation, which has only recently completed a significant restructure, in some ways we’re at the start of our journey. What’s important today, has always been important but it’s not necessarily always been communicated in a clear and consistent way.

Once I’ve got my feet far enough under the table, I intend to hold supplier briefings to build relationships and ensure we are always striving to achieve supply chain excellence across our supplier base. I’ll share our requirements all the way from starting a process right through to award and contract management. I’ll also be sharing plans of where we’re going and what we’re thinking and set out clear expectations for both parties moving forward.

Transitioning to net zero

To help transition to a net zero healthcare system by 2045, transparency is key. Sharing plans, letting us hear about and be part of them and challenging us if we’re not behaving in a way that they believe is the most sustainable.

I had a supplier this week, who, as part of another discussion, said, “there’s an opportunity over here [another product line than the one being discussed] that could reduce your plastic waste by thousands of tonnes.” It’s these insights, simple in origination, but with impact, which we all need to act upon to drive a more sustainable healthcare system.

Mr Evans has been in post since 29 April 2024.