The air was electric with possibility at the NEC, Birmingham on 13 July for this year’s P4H conference and exhibition. Representatives from both the public and private sectors descended on the venue from across the UK to learn about the latest developments in healthcare procurement, network with their peers and build new and lasting business relationships. Here, BiP Solutions journalist Domhnall Macinnes recounts some of the events of the day.
Opportunity began in the keynote arena at P4H 2016 – The Procurement Event for Health, held on 13 July at the NEC, Birmingham.
Kicking off the keynote speeches was meeting chair Professor Duncan Eaton, Executive Advisor at the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group, who launched the audience into an enthralling series of addresses which set the tone for the day and encapsulated the value of P4H, attracting delegates from all corners of the venue.
Professor Eaton said: “The event today intends to bring together those from the procurement world and suppliers to listen and talk and be informed and contribute to the future of health procurement. This keynote arena is a major part of the programme. We’ve put together a range of speakers to tell us about current initiatives and their views of the future.”
Renowned names in procurement such as Managing Director of Marc1 Ltd Colin Cram proceeded to inform the packed arena about emerging developments in the healthcare procurement landscape. Mr Cram’s talk, entitled ‘Brexit – The challenges and opportunities for NHS procurement’, was one not to be missed.
Following his speech, Mr Cram commented: “What I’d really like for people to take from my speech today is that they need to raise their game in procurement. Instead of looking at ways of just saving procurement costs and reducing prices, see what opportunities and what products there are available that will help reduce NHS costs overall.”
He continued: “All of the smaller companies find it almost impossible to engage with NHS hospitals as they’d have to try and sell to them one by one. Small companies do not have the resources to do so.
“I reckon that if procurement people took advantage of the opportunities out there – doing things differently – the potential savings for the NHS and the benefits to patients would be immeasurable.”
Professor Eaton also introduced Pat Mills, Commercial Director, Department of Health, who delivered a stimulating address enititled ‘NHS Procurement – The National Programme’. Mr Mills discussed the value of making savings within the NHS and the immeasurably valuable things that could be done with these savings.
Later in an interview, he reflected on his speech: “The key message I would like people to take away with them today is about money. Money is critical. We want to go about making savings, and procurement is a great way of doing that. The procurement community as a whole in general can deliver maybe £1 billion worth of savings. That’s two hospitals a year. But we’ve got to work together.”
Within the event’s dedicated buyer and supplier zones, stakeholders from across the public and private sector took advantage of the various hubs offering networking and advice. At the Best Practice Case Study Zone, delegates were offered a unique opportunity to learn from the past successes of others through explanatory presentations. Nick Hodgson, Supplier Development Advisor for the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, was at the zone co-presenting on the Savings Swap Shop, a programme which has enabled ten NHS trusts in the south west of England and beyond to save in excess of £850,000 through sharing ideas for efficiencies in procurement.
Mr Hodgson said: “It’s important for people to attend events such as P4H for the same principle as our message today. It’s about collaboration – getting together and realising that everyone in different hospitals and different organisations is actually working on the same projects. So they may have a better way of working on things which can help us save time, find efficiencies and ultimately save money as well.”
On the arena floor, partners, exhibitors and sponsors networked throughout the day with stakeholders, meeting delegates at their stands to plant the seeds of blossoming new relationships.
Naomi Clews, Senior Category Lead at the Crown Commercial Service, mused on the vital role P4H plays and why the CCS acted as an official partner to the event: “We absolutely want to make ourselves visible to as many suppliers and customers, especially within the NHS, as possible. Bringing buyers and suppliers together is really important. It’s the only way that we can learn and innovate and get better for our customers in the NHS. The information that we gain at P4H is the information that we take back to redevelop some of our strategies.”
Building upon this year’s success, next year’s event promises to deliver even more opportunities to buyers and suppliers in the healthcare sector. With yet another busy schedule of engagement, advice and professional development, P4H will return in summer 2017.