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Key learnings from our customers on getting clinicians engaged in procurement workstreams

Engaging Clinicians with procurement

We have worked with customers to understand how they have engaged these stakeholders to make efficiencies quickly and help improve overall patient outcomes.

Friday 27 March 2015

Failure to engage clinical and nursing stakeholders in procurement workstreams can not only be a potential barrier to realising savings and efficiencies but also to achieving the best overall outcome.

We have worked with customers to understand how they have engaged these stakeholders to make efficiencies quickly and help improve overall patient outcomes.

This article is a bullet point summary of the learnings and we hope you find it useful.

Strategic considerations

  • Align clinical directorates to care pathways and this leads to an increasingly holistic understanding of costs across pathways.1
  • Engage medical directors at board level to lead and be accountable for standardisation but ensuring representatives of clinical and nursing teams are engaged from the outset.2
  • Split spend into contentious and non-contentious product areas and agree a decision making structure for both.1
  • Initially, focus on non-contentious areas to test the system and the concept, to allow people to see some success - this will help gain their buy-in for challenging categories.2

Developing your network of stakeholders

  • Ensure there is understanding and alignment of clinical and procurement goals.1
  • Be prepared to only engage those who will add value to the process.1
  • Be clear who has accountability for the process.1
  • Develop consensus groups to review most commonly used items but seek input from specialists for more complex equipment.1
  • Consensus groups can take the form of clinical networks and multi-disciplinary input into a review processes for clinical products and devices, using clear protocols, policies and product groups.

Obtaining buy in from relevant stakeholders

  • Use information with stakeholders that demonstrates the impact on the whole trust, not just their individual area.1
  • Improve access to evidence to help clinicians see the imperative for change.1
  • Engage stakeholders by equating efficiencies from standardisation to numbers of nurses that could be employed.1
  • Liaise with clinical teams to agree and control standardised products and devices across an organisation.
  • Sell in realistic expectations to stakeholders and over deliver for them gives more confidence in future workstreams.2
  • Understand where good practice already exists and communicate it to other departments in order to help secure buy-in to more complex change.3
  • Biggest quick wins first - provide clinical and nursing stakeholders with spend on high usage areas i.e. top 10 and provide potential savings from alternatives.1
  • Base decisions on hard evidence around clinical efficiency and safety1, ensuring that legislative and regulative healthcare laws and guidelines associated with Medical Devices and patient care are considered in the procurement process and communicated correctly across an organisation and included in future planning.


  • Seek 3-4 “clinically acceptable alternatives” from stakeholders to leverage in the market.1
  • Use independent project management and other resources like independent procurement advice to reduce the burden on all involved, reducing the time required from them.1
  • Observe product utilisation in practice, collecting staff feedback, identifying training needs and supporting cost improvement programmes.
  • Ensure clinicians have the opportunity to be involved to reduce the risk of objections once the decision has been made.1
  • Avoid duplication of product evaluations and source relevant evidence from those performed by other trusts.1
  • Maintain stakeholders confidence in the process by dual stocking for a limited period to help avoid product availability issues.2
  • Engage suppliers from the start of the process ensuring that they feel involved and receive a consistent message from all stakeholders to give them confidence in the process.2
  • Formalise the appeals process to ensure genuine exceptions are responded to2
  • Capitalise on supplier resources to support adoption e.g. training sessions and on-going guidance to ensure products are used appropriately .4
  • Understand what resource is available from your procurement partner to support adoption whether that be clinical or systems expertise.5
  • Actively promote research activity that can identify new innovations or technologies to improve patient care or outcome.

Please share your learnings on effective clinical engagement via Twitter#nhsprocurement.

Further information

Find out more about NHS Supply Chain savings programmes at:


  1. Take the Doctors Shopping, Health Service Journal, November 25 2014
  2. Working Together Programme Case Study,
  3. Kent Community Health Trust Case Study,
  4. Shropshire Community Health Case Study,
  5. Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Case Study,

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