I joined the NHS in 2011, coming from a Police Procurement environment and for the first 12 months I did not know the HCSA existed. It was only by chance that I was invited to meeting to discuss a range of issues to do with Procurement in the Yorkshire & Humber area that I became aware of them. As a Head of Procurement I was both embarrassed that I had not looked into whether any association had existed (the Police had an equivalent called the APPCM which I was a member of) but also surprised that I had not come across the HCSA in some capacity within a year of being in the NHS.
Looking at the HCSA today, I can honestly say, if I joined the NHS in 2017 that the HCSA would not remain unknown to me for over a year. I believe this speaks volumes to the role the HCSA currently plays in supporting all of us as Procurement, Commissioning and Supply Chain professionals working within the NHS family.
As a regional coordinator and NSG member of the HCSA I am asked ‘What is the HCSA about?’ and ‘Why should I become a member?’
One of the reasons I always give is that the HCSA is a united voice for the whole profession which promotes the view of its members and is increasingly helping to raise the profile of Procurement at a national level. I am sure a number of you will have seen the letter that was sent from the HCSA last year around the development of the Future Operating Model. The HCSA acting as one voice were able to articulate the concerns and issues we had but critically to get these views recognised and discussions held with the DH about how the HCSA could be involved.
This example is not unique and there are numerous other examples of a similar nature where the HCSA has acted to support the profession and provide a balanced and objective view. Procurement in the NHS is once again under the spotlight and has a very high profile. By having a strong association we can use this exposure to highlight the brilliant talent we have and great work we do across the UK which helps us lead on the change needed in the NHS to ensure we continue to support the delivery of excellent care.
The HCSA is also about developing our members and fostering the talent we have at all levels of the profession. The HCSA continues to provide the Procurement Development Programme (PDP) or summer school for those old enough to remember. This week long residential course is always popular and generally oversubscribed and is one of the best courses available to HCSA members, and crucially gives the attendees a peer group which they can relate to once they have gone back to their respective organisations. The HCSA is also supporting the new National Procurement Skills Development Training which has replaced the old Task Force training. Both of these areas along with the more regional conferences and events that HCSA supports and hosts, demonstrate the commitment to Learning & Development which the HCSA want to be known for.
The HCSA is also known for its annual conference and awards ceremony but has recently supplemented this with a 1 day summer conference. Both of these events are the premier events for HCSA members and NHS procurement professionals and for me are unrivalled for the content of the conferences and also the chance to network and catch up with colleagues from the rest of the country.
The HCSA is your association, it is there to work on behalf of you and all of its members. It helps raise the profile of Procurement and supply chain professionals nationally which helps our profile locally in influencing and leading at a local organisation level. The HCSA is helping develop its members and offers learning and development opportunities to allow staff to fufill their potential and ensures we have the right calibre of staff able to meet the challenges we face on a day to day basis. The HCSA runs two of the best conferences to allow people to stay up to date with latest developments and best practices and through the conferences and regional events allows staff to network and support each other.
Our profession is facing challenges and uncertainty, we need a strong association more than ever to ensure we are equipped to face these challenges and support us all through these uncertain and changing times. I strongly believe the HCSA is doing that now and will continue to do that in the future.
So back to when I am asked about why I should become a member of HCSA, I always finish with a question back, Why not be a member of the HCSA? Could you do all the HCSA does on your own?