• Oxford AHSN is no longer a subcontractor for DHL Supply Chain and Vizient
  • AHSN planned to work on NHS procurement transformation programme
  • Companies refuse to say why work with the AHSN was ended

An academic health science network has been dropped from a partnership that is tasked with delivering millions of pounds of savings for the NHS, HSJ can reveal.

Last October, Oxford AHSN said it was a “key subcontractor” to DHL Supply Chain and US firm Vizient, who collectively won four contracts from the Department of Health and Social Care to buy certain categories of products on behalf of the NHS.

The contracts are part of an overhaul of NHS procurement, which aims to deliver hundreds of millions of pounds worth of savings from the way the NHS buys products.

The AHSN saw its involvement in the programme as a way of building its reputation in the NHS and bringing in “significant” financial gains towards sustaining itself.

However, the AHSN confirmed to HSJ it is no longer a subcontractor.

HSJ understands the AHSN’s involvement stopped prior to the contracts going live in May and July.

The AHSN’s role was to develop “clinical councils” made up of clinicians from 10 “reference trusts”.

The councils would provide “clinical leadership to inform the procurement process”, according to a job advert posted by the AHSN in October.

Up to 10 whole time equivalent staff were to be hired, led by a deputy director of clinical procurement. The team would have a budget of up to £1.5m.

HSJ understands there was no impact on staffing as a result of the AHSN no longer being part of the programme.

The AHSN did not say why its partnership had ended.

A spokesman said not all the AHSN’s “potential income streams and portfolio of commercial activities” came to fruition and work on the NHS procurement programme “fell into this category”.

He added the AHSN was “on a sound financial footing” after five year funding from NHS England and Office for Life Sciences was confirmed.

Three of the four contracts the AHSN said it was involved with are run by DHL Supply Chain, the incumbent provider of the current NHS Supply Chain service.

The fourth contract is held by Health Solutions Team, which is a joint venture between DHL Supply Chain and Vizient.

HSJ asked all parties if the use of Oxford AHSN was mentioned in DHL Supply Chain and HST’s bids for the contracts, but the two companies did not respond.

The DHSC has been approached for comment.

Vizient is made up of a number of companies, which includes Novation – the company which provided consultancy to DHL Supply Chain during the first few years of the NHS Supply Chain service.

Oxford AHSN’s chief operating officer is Paul Durrands, who was heavily involved in the work to outsource the NHS Supply Chain contract to DHL Supply Chain.