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Aintree University Hospital NHS FT procurement partnership saves £1.1m

Aintree University Hospital NHS FT

The procurement partnership at Aintree University Hospital FT saves the NHS £1.1m

Tuesday 2 February 2016

The unprecedented financial challenge faced by NHS providers is as real for Aintree University Hospital NHS FT as any other hospital.

In line with findings from Lord Carter’s interim report: Review of operational efficiency in NHS providers 1, one of the key areas for the Trust board is procurement where they have needed to unlock savings from the medicine and surgery budget in 2015/16 across clinical business units (CBUs).

Approaching this task, Head of Procurement Sue Colbeck and her team focused particularly on clinical engagement to understand what was needed to achieve the savings for each CBU. This generated the following requirements:

  • Strong relationships with clinicians that are well managed
  • Balanced joint work plan so no areas are overburdened
  • Support of specialists at NHS Supply Chain to help obtain buy in to individual projects
  • Commitment of procurement to deliver savings without compromising quality.

“If I’m using NHS Supply Chain together with other procurement partners, I’m playing the market off against itself and achieving very little at the end of it.”

Sue Colbeck
Head of Procurement
Aintree University Hospital NHS FT


Based on these key requirements, Sue and her team developed a strategy for the partnership based on five key building blocks:

  • Develop internal and external partnerships based on joint goals and respect
  • Agree on most effective way of delivering savings without compromising on quality
  • Agree volume commitment under compliant frameworks
  • Keep suppliers engaged with volume commitment and growth opportunities
  • Leverage the procurement resources that are nationally available.

Key projects delivered

Here are some of the key projects that have delivered to date through work plan, jointly agreed between Aintree University Hospitals Procurement Team, clinicians and NHS Supply Chain:

  • Interventional radiology, cardiology and pacing – 10% savings (£104,000) – see case study
  • Theatre custom procedure packs – 25% savings (£58,000) – see case study
  • Bowel management – 48% savings (£27,000) – see case study
  • Stores programme – supply chain efficiency – see case study

Results so far

  • £690,500 savings (6%) delivered for 2015/16
  • £451,000 savings (4.5%) delivered in 2014/15
  • Improved patient outcomes and lowered costs
  • Being a clinically-led programme owned and driven by consultants, doctors and nurses but supported by procurement has been integral to accelerating savings for the Trust
  • Improved efficiency and transparency in back office processes has freed up time and made spend more traceable
  • Improved internal supply chain leading to better service to frontline teams
  • Set up new clinical product evaluation group chaired by Deputy Director of Nursing.

“Through commitment [via NHS Supply Chain] and working together we’ve achieved the savings quicker.”

Sue Colbeck
Head of Procurement
Aintree University Hospital NHS FT

Key learnings to date

  • The Trust Board has to ensure internal functions are aligned to ensure all teams support a common goal
  • The first step has always got to be cleansing data before scoping projects.
  • It is important to establish solid foundations for the whole procurement programme before initiating projects.

Further information

Download the case study to see the next steps for the partnership as well as who to contact at Aintree University Hospitals NHS FT and NHS Supply Chain for more information.


1 Lord Carter’s interim report: Review of operational efficiency in NHS providers -

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