The NHS eProcurement Strategy Announced

Dr Dan Poulter MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health on the launch of the NHS eProcurment Strategy document.

NHS eProcurement Strategy In August 2013, we published Better Procurement Better Value Better Care, which established a new Procurement Development Programme to help NHS trusts stabilise their non-pay spending so that they spend no more than they currently do by the end of 2015-16, thereby realising £1.5bn of procurement efficiencies.

There have been many previous initiatives to realise procurement efficiencies but this time we mean business and are determined to deliver efficiencies to free up more money for frontline care. To ensure that these new efficiencies are sustained and further improved upon, I am announcing this NHS eProcurement strategy, which will establish the global GS1 coding and PEPPOL messaging standards throughout the healthcare sector and its supporting supply chains. Compliance with these standards will enable trusts to control and manage their non-pay spending, by:

  • the adoption of master procurement data;
  • automating the exchange of procurement data;
  • benchmarking their procurement expenditure data against other trusts and healthcare providers.

Previous efforts to improve eProcurement in the NHS have been patchy due to a lack of central direction. We have now mandated the use of the GS1 and PEPPOL standards by amending the NHS Standard Contract to require compliance with this NHS eProcurement strategy. We have also required suppliers to place their product data in a GS1 certified datapool by amending the NHS Terms and Conditions for the Supply of Goods and the Provision of Services.

To embed these standards across the NHS, we will centrally fund and procure the critical national infrastructure to support the strategy, which will be interoperable with existing and future local eProcurement systems so that trusts can locally select their preferred technology partners.

The strategy also drives patient safety benefits. Barcodes based on the GS1 standards can be read at any point in the healthcare supply chain so that a product subject to a safety alert can be quickly located and recalled. Providers of NHS-funded healthcare, including the independent sector, must be able to electronically track and trace individual medicines and medical devices to a specific patient.

To help trusts to further improve their non-pay spending, we will centrally fund and procure a single, national spend analysis and price benchmarking service. Thisservice will provide high quality expenditure data so that trusts can identify opportunities to continuously improve their procurement performance.

Our strategy draws from experience in the global healthcare sector and from the banking, manufacturing and retailing sectors. Importantly, there is nothing in the strategy that hasn't already been done in part somewhere, either in the NHS, in another sector or in another country. What is new, however, is bringing all these elements together in one cohesive strategy to improve patient care through a modern, effective and efficient NHS procurement function.

We have established wide support for the strategy through many conversations with the NHS, suppliers and eProcurement technology providers. The strategy has been endorsed by NHS England, the NHS Trust Development Authority, and Monitor.

I have recently written to all NHS trusts asking them to ensure that there is a lead non-executive director for procurement who will be asked to hold their board toaccount for the delivery of the wider Procurement Development Programme,including this NHS eProcurement strategy.

Dr Dan Poulter MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, March 2014

NHS Strategy Document on GOV.UK website: