NHS National Services Scotland is a national NHS board which provides help and support to NHS Scotland. Jim Miller, NHS National Services Scotland’s Interim Director Procurement, Commissioning and Facilities, will be at the keynote arena at the P4H 2016 conference in Birmingham on 13 July to delivering an unmissable speech. Ahead of the event, BiP Solutions journalist Domhnall Macinnes caught up with Mr Miller to hear about collaborative procurement and the future of UK healthcare procurement.
Jim Miller has a wide variety of procurement experience across both the public and private sectors. He worked in sectors ranging from aviation to construction to public administration prior to joining NHS Scotland in 2006 as Director of Strategic Sourcing. In September 2015 he became Interim Director of Procurement, Commissioning and Facilities at NHS National Services Scotland.
Mr Miller said: “I lead a strategic business unit which encompasses the national collaborative procurement organisation, which provides contract and supply chain solutions across all 22 Scottish health organisations. Additionally, the organisation provides specialist commissioning and population screening services, and is the centre of expertise for facilities, engineering and environmental management.”
A piece of collaborative advice
Mr Miller discussed collaborative procurement and its importance, and had some advice for buyers considering it. Collaborative procurement is aimed at aiding the Scottish public sector to form partnerships between buying organisations, the Centres of Expertise (CoE) and suppliers, creating real value for money.
He counselled: “Don’t be afraid! There are lots of examples where this has worked really well. Equally, the venture is only as good as the weakest link.
“We have recently developed a new type of collaborative arrangement in Scotland where the strength lies with the members, who effectively self-regulate the system. We will not achieve further productivity gains, embrace innovation or truly support the health service if we work in isolation.”
Mr Miller also had advice for suppliers thinking of selling to collaborative procurement ventures. It is his firm view that buyers and suppliers must work together.
He commented: “Work with them. Understand that they (the buyers) may be trying to gauge the benefit of collaboration as well. Identify how the collaboration can be of mutual benefit by, for example, reducing the ‘cost to serve’ and identify how this can translate to commercial advantage.
“Also be aware of the cost of change; it will be more complex to implement across multiple sites than a single site, for example, but it also provides opportunities to standardise and support single systems of care.”
A problem and a solution
Mr Miller says that increasing demand and decreasing budgets is the primary challenge facing UK healthcare today. He argues that a move to a preventative healthcare system is vital, and procurement needs to be taking this on board in order to be prepared.
Thankfully, however, as he notes, NHS National Services Scotland is already taking steps to prepare for these challenges.
He explained: “We are the largest shared service organisation in Scotland. We currently provide a range of services including procurement and supply chain but also, for example, central legal services, payment services to primary care, counter-fraud services and health information services, amongst others. The ability to provide a complete range of services allows Health Boards to concentrate on the delivery of patient care and preventative healthcare.”
Concluding, Mr Miller looked to the near future of UK healthcare procurement and the changes that he foresees occurring. He discussed three primary areas he feels should most be focused on. He touched again on collaboration and preventative healthcare, but said he hopes to see collaborative relationships evolving into something more.
Mr Miller said: “I would concentrate on three areas. Firstly, collaboration maturing into true partnering, which includes the market and providers as well as the health service. The phrase is used a lot but there is a long way to go.
“Secondly, the move towards a preventative healthcare culture and increased patient decision-making will require very different commercial and delivery models.
“Thirdly, to reference Simon Syneck, start with the why. In other words, it’s very easy to concentrate on savings, delivery performance, product and service availability and so on. We are all here to serve the patient and improve the health of the population. Plugging this into the procurement DNA will, I believe, continue to motivate the healthcare procurement community.”
The good news for delegates attending this year’s P4H conference at the NEC, Birmingham is that Mr Miller will be in attendance for the entire event and is offering one-on-one sessions on the day or with prior notice.
With regard to the event itself, Mr Miller touched on P4H’s value in promoting best procurement practice.
He said: “The health landscape is changing dramatically and procurement has a significant part to play in making the changes successful and sustainable. Sharing and learning from colleagues within health and, just as importantly, the market is key. P4H provides this opportunity in one place.
“The whole event looks very interesting. For me one of the primary benefits is to interact with colleagues working in other parts of the health system across the UK.”
How P4H can help you
This year’s P4H event is set to offer a prime occasion for collaboration, with the PH4 Collaboration Zones providing delegates the chance to learn about both buyer and supplier opportunities.
Delegates will be offered the chance to network with buyers in the Buyer Engagement Village, boosting your peer contact list.
Delegates will also have the unique opportunity to meet with representatives of the NHS and furthermore hear advice from industry experts in the same prime location.
Don’t miss your chance to attend.