Professionals holding procurement jobs in the NHS have achieved a small miracle by ensuring that the NHS Business Services Authority and NHS Supply Chain have met their cash-releasing target of £300m – a full five months ahead of schedule.

The target was set by the Department of Health and Social Care and is a core component of the “Carter Initiative”, a plan to achieve an estimated £700m in savings amongst local trusts via improved procurement activities.

Head of Supplier Management at the NHS Business Authority George McGeary said that the customer’s voice was important and took centre stage in the NHS Supply Chain’s procurement strategy. The latter aims to deliver products that match customer expectations while simultaneously achieving the targeted savings.

He added: “We are currently transitioning into the new NHS Supply Chain Operating Model which aims to deliver savings of £2.4bn over the next five years. This model will leverage the collective buying power of the NHS to provide clinically assured products at the best value whilst meeting the diverse needs of NHS organisations.”

NHS procurement staff, which include permanent personnel as well as procurement interims, took price reduction as a core factor in meeting the target and achieved it through working with suppliers to agree cost reductions. Procurement teams also utilised savings programmes such as Nationally Contracted Products (NCP), which aggregates national demand and then purchases products on behalf of the entire NHS. In addition, they secured purchasing commitment discounts from particular suppliers.

Describing the early target attainment as a “fantastic achievement”, Tim Slater, CEO of NHS Supply Chain, recognised the valiant efforts of procurement staff in delivering the £300m cash releasing target.

Explaining that his colleagues had worked closely with both suppliers and customers on savings programmes such as the NCP and Compare and Save which had been led by NHS Improvement, Slater added: “This collaboration has been key to achieving this target.”

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