• Trusts asked not to share certain procurement data for at least two months
  • Next two procurement league tables will be delayed 
  • NHS Supply Chain limiting orders of face masks and hand gels

Acute trusts have been told not to submit efficiency data to NHS England/Improvement until at least May amid increasing supply pressures.

Preeya Bailie, director of commercial and procurement at NHSE/I, told trusts not to share certain procurement metrics in an email sent late Friday afternoon.

She wrote: “Due to the complex, challenging and unprecedented situation we are facing as a result of the covid-19 virus, the NHS is having to make some tough decisions on where it prioritises its resources at the moment.

“I am conscious of the additional pressure on you and your teams, and as a result have decided to ask you not to submit your procurement metrics for the next couple of months. I will review the situation in May 2020 and communicate the process for submission, once the impact on operational activity is understood more fully.”

The next two procurement league tables, which rank trusts quarterly on several efficiency metrics, will be delayed until further notice. The latest table, which used data from the second quarter of the current financial year, was released earlier this month.

Mrs Bailie wrote: “We will ensure you have a revised timetable for retrospective data submission and league table publication, once the landscape we are currently working in becomes clearer.”

A Health Care Supply Association spokesman told HSJ the trade body “strongly supported this sensible decision” which would allow procurement teams to focus on the current challenges.

HSJ has approached NHSE/I for comment.

The global demand of supplies like face masks and hand sanitiser have soared in recent weeks because of the spread of covid-19. Factories in China — the original epicentre of the disease — have focused on supplying protective equipment domestically, putting a strain on the global supply.

HSJ understands some Chinese manufacturers are now exporting face masks, but countries including the UK still face significant supply pressures.

NHS Supply Chain, which procures common consumables and medical devices for NHS trusts, has been “managing demand” for increasing lines of personal protective equipment and infection control products since the end of February.

The body recently told customers it was implementing “controls on excessive order quantities” of a range of personal protective equipment to make sure stock was managed “fairly”. A spokeswoman from the Department of Health and Social Care denied this amounted to rationing.

NHS Supply Chain announced last week it would begin distributing FFP3 respirators from national stockpiles to NHS customers. It has begun hosting daily webinars for its customers.

An NHS Supply Chain spokeswoman told HSJ: “We’re working closely with our suppliers to manage stock levels of the identified key product lines outlined in Public Health England’s guidance. Many of these lines including face masks are stockpiled and available to flow in the system to mitigate any potential supply issues.

“We have stock on order from the UK and European countries in addition to suppliers based in the Far East to continue to secure a pipeline and replenish the stockpiles to help ensure the uninterrupted supply to the NHS”.