• Greater Manchester trusts agree procurement alignment
  • Savings to be made from stronger regional procurement
  • Plans mooted for single procurement organisation across region

More than a dozen NHS trusts in a devolution area have agreed to align their buying power for purchases costing more than £1m, HSJ can reveal.

Finance directors across trusts in Greater Manchester will not sign off long-term supply contracts or high-value deals until the wider impact on the 13 trusts in the region has been assessed.

It is thought to be the biggest such collaboration between trusts in the NHS, and comes amid a shake-up of the NHS procurement landscape in which individual trusts’ purchasing power is being diminished.

Neil Hind, procurement lead for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, told HSJ getting agreement from each trust increased the potential to make “significant savings” from the region’s procurement.

“The trusts will now be thinking, ‘Are we missing an aggregation or harmonisation opportunity at region-wide level?’, before they enter into a long-term contract,” he said.

“We’ve been able to engage the finance directors by showing them the success that we’re starting to see through standardisation and joined-up procurement, which provides savings for each trust.

“Of course, there will be some circumstances where individual trusts do what is right for just themselves – for example, if they are a high user of a special product.”

While the agreement has only been made verbally, work to formalise the arrangement is ongoing.

Mr Hind added the group was yet to quantify the level of savings the new approach would yield.

Mr Hind’s procurement team at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has been in place for around six months as part of the devolution package given to Greater Manchester in 2015.

The four-person team has been working to standardise the equipment bought and used by trusts in areas such as wound care, procedure packs, orthopaedics, ICT, pathology, and community healthcare equipment.

One example within ICT is the trusts in the partnership agreeing to buy the same types of laptops and mobile phones, Mr Hind said.

For 2019-20, the team is planning to standardise further in the procurement of products within urology, arthroscopy, renal, vascular, trauma, cardiology, and estates.

Another priority for the team is to review NHS logistics in Greater Manchester and to evaluate the benefits of having a single inventory service.

This could see the NHS supplies centralised in a single warehouse, which would free up space currently used by trusts for storage.

The team also plans to explore what a single procurement organisation for Greater Manchester might look like, and potentially plan for a phased approach to achieving this.

NHS Improvement has indicated it wants more collaboration between trusts’ procurement teams, as part of a new efficiency model it is drawing up for the sector.

Around 4,000 procurement staff currently work in the NHS.

The trusts in the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership are: 

Bolton FT;

Central Manchester FT;

Greater Manchester Mental Health FT;

Manchester University FT;

North West Ambulance Service FT;

North West Boroughs Healthcare FT;

Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust;

Pennine Care FT;

Salford Royal FT;

Stockport FT;

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care FT;

The Christie FT; and

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh FT.