NHS reform must not be one size fits all: Keith Rowley
Wednesday December 16th, 2015
Following his keynote speech at the BiP-hosted GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015, NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOE CPC) Managing Director Keith Rowley spoke to BiP about his work and his hopes for NHS reform.
In his keynote address to ‘Selling to the NHS’, NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative Managing Director Keith Rowley discussed using NHS collaboration to reduce duplication and deliver more intelligent procurement solutions, with better results.
He said: “NOE CPC is working collaboratively – with partners – to deliver better procurement solutions to the NHS.”
Mr Rowley joined NHS NOE CPC as Commercial Director in October 2011, being appointed to the post of Managing Director in November 2012.
He now leads NHS organisational strategy to ensure customers achieve clear and demonstrable value, savings and efficiencies through working collaboratively.
However, Mr Rowley hasn’t always worked in healthcare, as he explained: “Having graduated in 1997, I spent 14 years with Computacenter, an IT service and solutions provider. At Computacenter I had various roles in sales, commercial and operations, working within the public and private sector.”
This role whetted his appetite for procurement, so when he sought new challenges Mr Rowley ventured into the healthcare sector, joining NOE CPC.
He said: “At NOE CPC I lead a team of highly skilled and experienced procurement professionals, whose job is to deliver cash-releasing savings to the NHS.
“We do this by helping Trusts target strategic non-pay spend areas, appropriately leveraging economies of scale while maintaining high levels of patient care. This is an ever-increasing challenge in this age of austerity and growing pressures in the NHS.”
These pressures, Mr Rowley said, have been partly addressed in Lord Carter’s recent Review of Operational Productivity in NHS partners report.
Mr Rowley elaborated: “Some of the main procurement challenges in today’s NHS have been noted in the Carter Report; for instance the idea of creating a standardised online catalogue for NHS Commoditised Goods as well as issues with data and information.”
However, Mr Rowley cautioned, the real challenge lay in streamlining the NHS without losing the precision of regional buying.
He said: “I believe the approach of a national policy is good, if it improves information to support more intelligent procurement, collaboration and aggregation, and drives effective competition.
“My concern is that we assume a one size fits all model for things such as the core list; standardising NHS paper might make sense, but standardising funeral services does not. Funeral services – along with other goods and services – differ greatly among areas and regions.”
He added: “NHS procurement teams have to be intelligent about the way we buy. Carter promotes efficiency by examining both supply and demand issues in the NHS, and advocates a more intelligent and commercial approach. I support this thinking; however, I believe one of the keys lies in not under-estimating the time, resources and complexities of achieving change.”
Looking to the future, Mr Rowley reflected upon the implications that regional devolution could bring.
He said: “I hope the GM Devolution Deal encourages long-term solutions to the challenges the NHS faces in balancing its demand and supply issues. I also hope the agreement will encourage a more commercial approach to NHS procurement, which will enable better service and even greater value to be achieved.”
Improving service in the NHS is something Mr Rowley is passionate about.
He concluded: “NOE CPC’s membership includes 53 different NHS organisations, and in 2014 the Collaborative delivered a 46% increase in savings, resulting in £14.6m worth of efficiencies to boost Trusts’ bottom lines.
“NOE CPC is also increasingly working with other NHS procurement organisations to encourage collaboration in order to avoid duplication and deliver more efficient and effective procurement solutions.”
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