Published: 16/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5805 Page 4 5

Trust boards need to 'get a grip' on supply and procurement if they are to achieve dramatic improvement in their performance and increase the amount they save, junior health minister Lord Hunt told a conference on Tuesday.

Announcing plans for a national supply leadership programme to improve the calibre of management staff in supply and procurement, he put the ball firmly in the court of trust board members.

'For those of you who are boardlevel directors, I urge you to consider what more you as a board can do to improve performance.'

He acknowledged that trusts were worried about achieving 3 per cent efficiency savings but said those with board-level commitment, who recruited supplies managers with the right level of expertise, would be able to achieve it.

And Lord Hunt said their concerns 'would be much more believable if there was evidence of them tackling some of the obvious inefficiencies in the system.

'Many boards of trusts are simply not getting the kind of information they require to make any judgement about how their trust is performing... If boards started to get a grip, that would have a dramatic impact on performance in relation to procurement, ' he said.

The programme will be developed by the NHS Leadership Centre under the auspices of the NHS Modernisation Agency, with responsibility transferred to the NHS University in time.

The decision to invest in leadership in supplies followed a report published last week by the Audit Commission which noted the shortage of suitably qualified and experienced procurement managers within trusts.