Jason Long, Business Development Manager at equipment solution specialists Asteral, agrees with both the recent National Audit Office (NAO) report and this week’s File on Four that more money could be saved in the NHS procurement process and calls for a new approach to deliver the much needed savings.
The recent Public Accounts Committee report and NHS procurement special on File on Four made interesting and relevant points about inefficient procurement in the English NHS today.
The Radio 4 programme highlighted NHS Scotland’s centralised procurement system, which is helping to drive down the cost of medical consumables for hospitals north of the border. However, the English NHS is much more competitive and complex and requires a new means of delivering value to the procurement process. Dealing directly with suppliers and negotiating the best deals for equipment is a vastly time-consuming job that not only requires a deep understanding of clinical needs but also knowledge of the wide range of medical consumables available.
The National Audit Office (NAO) report stated that NHS in the England could save £500 million every year through efficient and effective procurement. To deliver these savings requires time, which is not something that many clinicians can offer, and a specific expertise to ensure the delivery of the right amount of equipment, meeting both the clinical and financial brief, at the right time.
Clinical, financial and technical (in the case of some higher spec equipment) expertise is required to really deliver value to the procurement chain. By utilising expertise in equipment procurement and management, Asteral offers a full service solution that includes both equipment and medical consumables, providing a one-stop shop for all a Trusts’ equipment needs. This has massive saving benefits in terms of time, removing the need to source, negotiate, communicate and manage multiple suppliers. As a vendor independent service provider Asteral is able to identify the right equipment at the best price, allowing clinicians to focus on their key role of patient care.
Approaching procurement in this way can help Trusts to meet the tough cost-cutting agenda that has been mapped out for the NHS. Outsourcing the procurement, management and maintenance of equipment and consumables to a single provider can deliver significant cost and efficiency savings to Trusts. Further benefits are available with most outsource arrangements in the form of VAT concessions.
Asteral has extensive experience working with the NHS, delivering value to their procurement processes through smarter capital and revenue planning. By offering bespoke financial packages alongside a one-stop-shop for both consumables and equipment, Trusts have a proven means to reduce their procurement costs whilst improving their patient service.