• Benchmarking tool helps trusts compare spending on goods and equipment, and is credited with savings hundreds of thousands of pounds
  • Contract with tool provider expires in late July
  • No decision made yet over future of PPIB tool

Uncertainty has arisen over the provision of a price comparison tool used by trusts to analyse and improve their spending, HSJ has learned.

NHS Improvement’s two year contract with AdviseInc for the Purchasing Price Index Benchmarking tool expires at the end of July, but no decision has been made over what happens after then.

Sources have told HSJ NHSI is not able to extend the contract with AdviseInc because of rules within the initial procurement, which was run through the Crown Commercial Service’s G-Cloud 7 framework.

Contracts secured through the framework can only last a maximum of two years. This could mean NHSI must run a new procurement for a spend analytics tool.

NHSI did not answer HSJ’s questions, but a spokeswoman said: ”We are currently exploring all options, however it is our intention to provide continuity of procurement benchmarking services to help trusts deliver further savings.”

The PPIB tool has been credited with helping trusts find savings worth hundreds of thousands of pounds by comparing the amount they pay for equipment with their peers.

The tool uses purchase order data from all provider trusts in the NHS to provide the comparisons.

One example last year saw Barts Health Trust save £150,000 through renegotiating a deal for prosthesis with its supplier after PPIB highlighted a savings opportunity.

The tool’s data also plays a role in determining where trusts are ranked in the procurement league table, which launched in November.

Speaking at the Health Care Supply Association’s annual conference in December, NHSI operational productivity chief Jeremy Marlow hinted at plans to develop the tool further when he referred to the “next phase” of PPIB.

However, details are yet to be confirmed by the regulator as to what that might look like.

AdviseInc confirmed to HSJ that its contract with NHSI expires at the end of July and referred further questions to the regulator.

The contract is worth at least £960,000 over two years.

Funding for the tool was provided by NHSI in the first year of PPIB, before the regulator shifted part of the cost to trusts.