March 2021: Key updates from NHS Supply Chain

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Key updates from NHS Supply Chain include information about the  contribution our teams and service providers have made to the national vaccine rollout, how our focus on safety has led to clearer labelling on urinary catheters, a new food-to-go framework and an update on our equipment utilisation pilots.

NHS Supply Chain supports UK vaccine rollout

Intro line: NHS Supply Chain provides procurement and logistics support to national vaccination programme.

As we all celebrate the success to date of the ambitious NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, with the Government having achieved its goal to offer a first dose of the vaccine to the top four priority groups, NHS Supply Chain reflects on how it is supporting NHS England and NHS Improvement with this national effort through its procurement teams and logistics service provider: Unipart Logistics.

Chris Holmes, Director of Supply Chain, said: “The national vaccination programme has been the largest in the history of the NHS and it is a great honour for our teams to have played a part in the procurement and the delivery of some of the consumable products so vital for administering the vaccine.

The speed at which we have been able to respond to the programme’s requirements is testament to the logistics expertise and agility of our teams to work collaboratively whilst also maintaining our business as usual operation. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved within NHS Supply Chain and our suppliers.”

The national programme which launched in December saw the first consignments of vital equipment delivered, made up of consumables including everything from sharps bins to syringes, paper towels to pens and antibacterial wipes to administer the vaccine. NHS Supply Chain is procuring some of the equipment and clinical consumables required to administer the vaccine and delivering these items into hospital hubs (deliveries have also been made to support the setup of mass vaccination centres). Since then there have been more than 2,000 deliveries and there are many more to come.

Many thanks go to the dedicated procurement and logistics teams including those managing the project, customer services, warehouse operatives and lorry drivers. Find out more information here.

Key points from the first round of NHS Customer Board for Procurement and Supply of 2021

Intro line: A summary of the key points and outcomes discussed at the 2021 Customer Board.

Sir James Mackey OBE, Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, chaired his first national NHS Customer Board for Procurement and Supply on the 9th March.  The National Board is held following the four regional customer boards which cover the North, South, London and the Midlands.  We are pleased to have welcomed Sir James to his first board meeting and we look forward to working with him as the NHS Customer Board continues to shape the NHS’s procurement strategy to ensure that its focusses on the needs of NHS trusts.

Key points discussed at this round of customer boards includes:

  • NHS Supply Chain’s value proposition. We are working with the Customer Board members to articulate in detail the end-to-end value that NHS Supply Chain delivers for the NHS. Board members have commented that this is a positive step forward and are keen to help us with the development of this work.
  • Savings plans. We are continuing to develop savings plans for 2021/22 with NHS trusts, and we are now providing a greater level of transparency around current and future savings opportunities in addition to the existing reporting of actual savings. A key aim is to simplify how we implement national savings opportunities, for example through auto-enrolment of National Pricing Matrix opportunities.
  • Service Improvement Programme. Our Service improvement programme led by our service provider: Unipart Logistics continues and is focussed on improving service across our Network. This programme seeks to incorporate customer feedback on how we can improve their experience.
  • Sustainable Development Strategy. Sustainability is a key focus area for NHS Supply Chain and we will be working with customer board members to implement our strategy which is aligned to Delivering a ‘Net Zero National Health Service. We are presenting to trusts our first sustainability led savings opportunities based on remanufactured devices.
  • Safety. We are accelerating the resolution of product complaints by improving the way in which you can raise food or product complaints, via an electronic form on our website. The new process has been well received, and we have had feedback that it’s a ‘big improvement’ to the complaints process.

Find out more here.

Clearer labelling on catheters needed to prevent patient harm

Intro line: Suppliers of urinary catheters are now required to use clearer labelling, following patient safety feedback.

Clearer labelling on urinary catheters is now required from suppliers following incidents where patients were fitted with the wrong type.

During detailed work to develop NHS Supply Chain’s new supply framework for Urology, Bowel and Faecal Management products, which includes urinary catheters, it emerged that there had been incidents of incorrect usage leading to patient harm.

Fay Allen from NHS Supply Chain’s Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA) team said: “It was found that there were incidents of female catheters being used on male patients urethrally, leading to potential or actual patient harm.

“As part of the work developing the new framework agreement for these products, we sought a clearer understanding of why these issues were occurring so that we could look at options to prevent this in the future.”

Discussions with healthcare professionals, including nurses and healthcare assistants, suggested that clinicians knew which products to use and there were no product faults, but that human error was a possible cause.

Simon Hall, of NHS Supply Chain: Rehabilitation, Disabled Services, Women’s Health and Associated Consumables, said a change to the requirements to catheter packaging had resulted from this engagement process.

The requirements for urinary catheter products supplied through NHS Supply Chain now include that all catheters must display two printed labels on the outer packaging – to be described as:

  • standard or male, indicating suitable for all adult groups
  • female or short, indicating suitable for female urethra or short passage i.e. supra-pubic, where it is inserted into the bladder through a cut in the abdomen, a few inches below the navel
  • paediatric – indicating that the product is a variant suitable for children.

Find out more here.



Launch of Food to Go framework

Intro line: NHS Supply Chain: Food launches new Food to Go framework, now available to NHS trusts.

NHS Supply Chain launched the new Food to Go framework on the 8 February 2021 and will run for 24 months, until 6 February 2023. There will be an option to extend for an additional 24 months.

Features of the framework include:

  • An increased number of suppliers to provide a competitive framework – allowing competition between local, regional and national suppliers to deliver quality, choice and value.
  • We will hold mini-competitions with trusts’ requirements on a broadened product base, to get the best outcome in both price and quality.
  • We will utilise culinary, dietetic and market expertise and shared market insights to help trusts achieve savings available on this framework.

Find out more here.


Launch of Decontamination Capital Equipment (Endoscopy and Sterile Services) and Associated Accessories framework

Intro: Information on the launch of the Decontamination Capital Equipment (Endoscopy and Sterile Services) and Associated Accessories National framework.

The Decontamination Capital Equipment (Endoscopy and Sterile Services) and Associated Accessories National framework covers items that either be found in an Endoscopy or Sterile Services setting including Sterile Services Department (SSD) and Hospital Sterilisation Decontamination Unit (HSDU).

This framework started on 19 February 2021, runs for 24 months and ends on 18 February 2023. There is an option to extend for an additional 24 months.

Find out more information here.


Equipment Utilisation Pilots

Intro line: An update on our equipment utilisation pilots.

As part of the NHS Supply Chain: Large Diagnostic Capital Equipment including Mobile and Services strategy, we began funding and running technology driven pilots with NHS trusts in January 2020. The goal of the programme is to identify opportunities to reduce costs and improve performance through better utilisation of mobile medical equipment.

We currently have three NHS partners with this project in Croydon University Hospitals, Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and St Georges University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and are looking to bring two more trusts onboard.

Parminder Bilku, Head of Medical Equipment and Decontamination at Croydon University Hospitals said “The pilot is providing new insights to help us identify unwarranted variation in the use of our equipment, inform the case for investment and shape the running of our clinical departments”.

Find out more here.