NHS Supply Chain June News Updates

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Updates from NHS Supply Chain this month include the launch of our 2020/2021 business plan, our sustainability strategy, how a focus on patient safety has led to latex-free physiotherapy products being made available through our Occupational Therapy framework and key points discussed during the latest round of the Regional Customer Boards.

We are pleased to be participating in the HCSA’s Summer conference on the 17 June and our Acting CEO and CFO Colin McCready and our Supply Chain Director Chris Holmes are looking forward to providing further updates at the event.

Our 2020/2021 business plan

We are pleased to share our 2021/2022 business plan. Within it, we highlight how NHS Supply Chain is committed to playing our part in supporting the NHS to deliver safe and excellent patient care.

We have identified five priorities for 2021/2022 that will ensure we continue to deliver the products and services needed by the NHS, both now and in the future.

Our priorities will focus on the following five areas:

  • Customer focussed – we will anchor our business on the needs of the NHS by supporting NHS trusts to deliver safe and excellent patient care and through continuing to build the services the NHS needs.
  • Supply chain resilience – we will further strengthen the resilience of our supply chain by continuing to invest in key tools and capacity that build resilience and performance, across the end to end supply chain.
  • Product safety – we will deliver clinically assured, safe products that support improved outcomes for patients and users.
  • Sustainability – we are committed to supporting the NHS objective of becoming the world’s first net carbon zero national health system.
  • Operating efficiency – we will ensure we are continuing to develop a high performing workforce and highly efficient organisation.

You can find out more and download the plan here.

Focus on patient safety leads to latex-free physiotherapy products

NHS trusts can now take advantage of latex-free products for patients undergoing physiotherapy.

The NHS has been migrating to latex-free products wherever possible since 2008 due to potential allergies in both patients and healthcare professionals. Individuals can develop hypersensitivity to the proteins that are present in natural rubber latex. Allergic reactions may develop as a result of this hypersensitivity including hives, a stuffy or running nose, itching and wheezing.

While the initial focus was on the use of latex-free gloves, the quality and quantity of latex-free products available has improved. So, while renewing the tender for its Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy framework, NHS Supply Chain consulted with clinicians and suppliers to remove latex resistance bands from its online catalogue.

Suppliers were already selling latex-free varieties so the conversations with suppliers and with clinicians during engagement was to understand any barriers to removing latex from the catalogue. Clinicians were positive about the move and suppliers were happy to accommodate the change as this was in line with national policy and removal of unwarranted variation principles outlined in the Carter report.

Marc Naughton, Clinical Engagement and Implementation Manager from NHS Supply Chain: Rehabilitation, Disabled Services, Women’s Health and Associated Consumables said: “Last year we supplied NHS organisations with more than 625,000 metres of latex resistance bands.

“Last autumn they were removed from the framework in-line with national policy, however, there are a variety of clinically effective ranges providing latex-free alternatives from a number of suppliers.

“By only supplying latex-free resistance bands there will be significant benefits to patients with known allergies but more importantly, unknown allergies to latex, thereby reducing risk of harm to patients.

“These products have been used successfully over a number of years and NHS organisations can be confident that we have a full product range to meet their needs.”

The new framework has eight brands providing latex-free resistance bands (extra light to extra-extra heavy) in a variety of lengths (50m to individual patient loops).

You can find out more here.

Sustainability strategy – delivering health sustainably

To drive better health outcomes and create economic, social and environmental value for our stakeholders, NHS Supply Chain is committed to leveraging the strength of its people and operations to deliver health sustainably.

At the heart of our strategy are four strategic pillars:

  • Human rights and labour standards
  • Waste and the circular economy
  • Plastic products and packaging
  • Climate change, energy and GHG emissions

We have invested in a new government backed supplier registration portal from NQC Limited, which collates suppliers’ sustainability data, giving trusts better transparency so they can comply with their modern slavery and social responsibility obligations. Information on how to access the portal is available on our sustainability strategy pages on our website.

You can find out more about our sustainability strategy here.

Orthopaedic project delivers 20% saving for Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Our recent orthopaedics project with Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has resulted in 20 percent savings on hip and knee products for the trust.

NHS Supply Chain offered the trust access to a breadth of clinically acceptable products and the ability to retain close working relationships with suppliers, whilst remaining compliant.

The trust decided to review what the Total Orthopaedic Solutions framework could offer in terms of expertise and pricing. NHS Supply Chain supported the trust from the very beginning of this process by managing the project and providing guidance to ensure the correct steps were followed for the most cost-effective results. More importantly, the project ensured that the outcome would be clinically led.

The project will save the trust more than £200,000 this financial year with predicted savings of £872,000 over four years.

You can find out more here.

May 2021 – Regional Customer Boards

The second round of Regional Customer Boards for 2021 are now complete, key points discussed include:

  • Update was shared on the engagement with trusts for the operating model
  • Update was given on resilience around stock cover, information would be coming out to trusts soon, this is off the back of the new planning guidance and should provide the confidence trusts need going forwards
  • Update on eDirect noting that customer engagement has been taking place on this since November 2019 with 19 pilot trusts, a lot of system enhancements have been made since then. The two big improvements are; customer configurable three way matching and back order management, customers should start to see these improvements next year, this will be done as part of the Core Technology Refresh Programme
  • Overview of the work being done on the NHS Supply Chain value proposition was discussed and well received
  • Update for members on NHS Supply Chain’s business plan
  • Confirmation was provided that NHS Supply Chain is working closely with the Department for Health and Social Care on the transfer of PPE supply to NHS Supply Chain as of 1 October 2021.
  • The vision for the PPE supply chain is to ensure that it meets the needs of the health and social care service whilst driving value for money through collaboration, spend aggregation, standardisation and resilience through incorporating supply chain excellence best practice.
  • With regards to sustainability there are several initiatives ready to be worked on now, members were asked to engage at an ICS/STP level with their Customer Relationship Managers


You can find out more https://www.supplychain.nhs.uk/about-us/customer-board/