Pushing on with its efficiency drive, the UK NHS is streamlining its healthcare procurement, while trying to maintain quality of care and SME engagement. Discussing the scope and possible solutions to this challenge, NHS London Procurement Partnership (LPP) Workstream Lead Edward James will be speaking at the P4H conference on 13 July, at the NEC Birmingham. BiP Solutions journalist Julie Shennan heard his top procurement tips ahead of the conference.
In his work with LPP Edward James manages its estates, facilities and professional services. Currently this includes managing 14 frameworks and two Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) as well as preparing another framework and further three DPS for delivery this year.
Bringing this wealth of knowledge to P4H, Mr James will talk at its Buyer Skills Development Training Zone, in a session titled The Solution to Boosting SME Participation in Public Sector Contracts? Dynamic Purchasing Systems.
During the session, Mr James will highlight the barriers that SMEs face when entering the healthcare supply chain, such as contracts where the value is too high for them to enter the tender processes.
He said: “Under the Public Contract Regulations suppliers can only bid for contracts up to twice the value of their annual turnover. If there is an even greater consolidation of procurement departments, then contract values will be higher, which means that more local SMEs will be excluded from bidding for the contracts because their turnover will be too low.”
Mr James explained that this was an unintended consequence of NHS efficiencies and increased collaborative procurement.
He added: “Healthcare buyers face the conflicting priorities of trying to drive down costs but also trying to engage with SMEs, as part of a localism agenda. NHS finances are as tight as they have ever been, so now all buyers must find ways of driving down cost without compromising the quality of care.”
Mr James cited Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS) as a good way of getting more SMEs into the healthcare supply chain without compromising on cost or quality.
Similar to an Electronic Framework Agreement, a DPS provides a shortlist of suppliers from which buyers can conduct an e-competition for tenders. Unlike a Framework Agreement, suppliers can apply to join the DPS at any point during its cycle.
However, Mr James acknowledged that DPS were a high maintenance procedure, with invitations to tender mandatory for each DPS requirement; replies to PQQs needed within 10 days; and no limit on the number of suppliers that can join.
Choose the Right Route to Market
Mr James advised supply chain professionals to think through their route to market, whether Dynamic Purchasing System, Framework or other.
He said: “Buyers must ensure that they select the best procurement route for the goods, services and works required.”
Just as buyers must choose the tender procedure most likely to produce their desired results, suppliers must enter the tender procedures they are most likely to win.
Choose the right E-procurement Solution
As well as utilising the correct tender procedures, Mr James said buyers and suppliers must use e-procurement tools to help them enter or manage health contracts.
He said: “The Minor Building Works DPS [delivered by LPP] showed LPP that buyers must strive to find an e-procurement system that meets all of their requirements to get the best results.”
Learn from your Past and your Peers
Finally, Mr James suggested procurement officials should evaluate projects they or their colleagues have worked on, repeat the elements that were successful and avoid making the same mistakes.
He said: “Buyers must share best practice among their peers and avoid the protectionist attitude that can come with local government procurement.
“The best procurement people will utilise the knowledge and skills of those around them to get the best results for their customers.”
How P4H can Help
P4H can help buyers and suppliers meet all of Mr James’ recommendations.
The event will allow delegates to share pearls of wisdom through its Buyer Engagement Village, Product Showcase Exhibition and Collaboration Zones, Keynote Arena, Best Practice Case Study Zone and Procurement Advice Hub.
Meanwhile, e-procurement products and services will be demonstrated live on the P4H conference floor, giving guidance to those seeking to boost their business while e-procurement will also be the focus of one of the Training Zones.
In addition, the Buyer Skills Development, Supplier and Best Practice Case Study Training Zones will offer CPD certified sessions to reinforce and expand on the advice and ideas available throughout P4H.
Don’t miss your chance to attend.