Reflections on a Diamond Jubilee-personal perspectives by Simon Walsh – Deputy Chief Officer

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We entered 2020 with great excitement as we looked forward to celebrating 60 years of the Health Care Supply Association and its’s predecessors. The House of Lords Reception; Summer Conference and Autumn Conference along with a dedicated web page and a badge were all ready to go!

We did not know what was about to come and how we as an NHS Procurement profession would face our biggest challenge in the past 60 years!

It’s difficult to describe the past weeks and in so doing I am mindful of the clinical staff in the front line and those who have suffered and sadly in some cases died.

The NHS Procurement family has been a part of all this and has worked tremendously hard to meet the challenges before it.

The HCSA has been very clear – we may highlight system failure and structural deficiencies but we always recognise the work of all those in NHS Procurement who are doing their very best to support the NHS at this time. Its been a very difficult balance and we haven’t always got it right – but in trying to reflect the mood of our members we have been mindful to both support the national effort and communicate things as they are. This approach hasn’t always been popular and at times we have been criticised but NHS Procurement has needed a voice- we have tried to give it.

National and Regional bodies have had a particularly challenging time and sometimes their contribution has not been fully acknowledged. Working in an environment of increased scrutiny and at times perceived service failure-all played out in public. The work that our members do in all the National and Regional bodies across the Home Countries is greatly valued.

NHS Procurement and PPE have been in the news for weeks now with the inevitable impact on the morale of HCSA members. It’s very difficult to do the work we are trying to do with often negative headlines and challenging publicity. It’s a credit to our members that we have managed to maintain our focus on serving the NHS.

I hope in due course there will be an opportunity to review the past few months and how we as a country handled the PPE issue. We need to fully understand the way that PPE has been handled and Pandemic Planning was undertaken. The past weeks have created an immense challenge for us all in NHS Procurement and created a level of anxiety that none of us would ever want to see repeated. I hope we can move on and learn from this.

The Diamond Jubilee of the HCSA may not be celebrated in the way we planned but it is being celebrated in the work that our members have done and continue to do for the NHS. This work has never been more important or valued.

We are celebrating our Diamond Jubilee in the way we always have – supporting the NHS.

I think the founders of our Association back in 1960 would look 60 years on and be very proud of their successors – I know I am.

Simon Walsh MCIPS