• New NHS Supply Chain management company could be transferred to NHS Improvement
  • Company currently owned by Department of Health and Social Care 
  • Regulator carrying out due diligence before decision in March

NHS Improvement is considering whether to take ownership of the new company set up to deliver billions of pounds of savings to the NHS, it has emerged.

The regulator is expected to decide in March if it should acquire Supply Chain Coordination Limited, which is currently wholly owned by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The company was set up last year to run the new NHS procurement model, with the ambition of saving more than £2bn over the next five years.

NHSI’s board discussed the potential transfer on 22 November last year.

According to minutes from the meeting, the board felt a “cultural challenge” needed to be overcome to ensure “buy-in” from NHS providers.

A spokesman for the regulator told HSJ it was “always envisaged” SCCL would be transferred to NHSI during the company’s creation, and the transfer would “reflect [NHSI’s] direct oversight of the provider sector”.

The new procurement model is structured to move buying power for common medical goods and consumables away from trusts and into SCCL, which oversees specialist procurement organisations buying on behalf of the NHS.

It is hoped this will enable the NHS to save more than £600m per year by 2021-22.

The company was mentioned in the NHS long-term plan, where its target of doubling the volume of products bought through NHS Supply Chain by 2022 was reiterated.

NHSI is currently carrying out a due diligence process on the transfer. The minutes stated an analysis was also required to “understand the benefits which could be achieved through the company for the NHS and how providers could be incentivised to co-operate to achieve these”.

From April, every trust will see a small portion of its income withheld and used to fund SCCL.

The minutes stated it was suggested a task and finish group be established and providers’ views be sought in relation to the transfer.

HSJ asked who the group comprised of and which providers had been approached, but NHSI did not provide answers to these questions. 

The regulator’s spokesman added: “Effective and efficient procurement is key to ensuring the NHS is able to maximise its resources and make every penny count for patients and its staff.”