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Making it Easier for the NHS to Put Patients First Through Supply Chain Enhancements

7 June 2024

Globally, supply chains will continue to face challenges in 2024, from a shortage in raw materials, to disruptions in manufacturing and transport. In response, we are building organisational flexibility, capabilities and resilience into our supply chain, whilst limiting our environmental impact.

We are committed to constantly listening to our system partners and responding to their feedback, which is why we have set out a progressive programme of change that aligns to the evolving needs of the NHS.

Some of the changes being implemented over the next 12 months include the complete removal of the Blue Diamond supply route from our service offer, the extension of the manual Back-Order Management Service to all eDirect suppliers and the implementation of a new demand allocation system.

Supply Chain Logistics - Driver Loading Roll Cage Into A Lorry

Blue Diamond

We have taken the decision to remove the Blue Diamond supply route from our service offer. Suppliers will be actioned in three stages over a 12-month period, based on current routes, service level, volume and utilisation of Inbound Logistics.

Customers will begin to see several benefits as this change is implemented including a reduction in overall lead time, an improvement in delivered service level and improved communication on product availability; making it easier for the NHS to put the patients first.   

See our Useful Links section section for further information on the removal of the Blue Diamond supply route.

eDirect back-order management service

To provide a consistent service across the supply route, we are expanding our existing manual back-order management service from the 10 suppliers of Cardiology and Orthopaedics products to the rest of the eDirect supplier base.

In instances where a supplier is unable to fulfil an eDirect order in full, we will work with them to manage the back-order process on behalf of the customer, reducing administration time for both suppliers and customers.

To address customer pain points, in the longer term, as part of the supply chain business plan, our ambition is to deliver a fully automated solution for a new direct shipment channel. We will also continue to make performance improvements relating to unfulfilled orders, and work with suppliers to improve performance around lead-time amends, lead-time adherence and delay days.

See our Useful Links section to learn more about the extension of the back-order management service and the benefits this will bring. 

Demand allocation system

Ensuring all NHS trusts have equal access to key consumables required to provide patient care remains a top priority. In certain instances, this requires us to implement demand management processes to ensure that stock remains available and is shared fairly, albeit it in reduced quantities for products.

Whilst the current process is effective in reducing the impact when supply disruptions occur and continues to strengthen resilience across the healthcare landscape, we recognise there are some frustrations, most notably around the lack of transparency and volatility of allocation levels.

In recognition of the challenges related to the current demand allocation system, we are developing a new system, which will bring demand allocation under NHS Supply Chain’s ownership and offers considerable improvements for the NHS moving forward.

We will provide further information in due course.