Government to roll out £5m pan-NHS procurement platform over next three years

Unified system will be implemented across all central NHS and departmental bodies and will also be open to trusts across the country

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The Department of Health and Social Care is to implement a nationwide procurement platform that will be available use by all NHS organisations throughout England and Wales.

The department has published a contract notice seeking a software supplier that can provide a “single eCommercial system” for use across the DHSC and its national arm’s-length bodies and owned companies. This includes NHS England, NHS Improvement, NHS Digital, and NHS Property Services as well as the Care Quality Commission, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Once the system is live, it will also be open for use by all individual NHS trusts and any other organisations that are part of the government “health family”.

The government is looking for a system through which health-service bodies can not only issue and manage tenders, but can also monitor supplier performance and savings. The tool should also offer the capability to keep users abreast of available product upgrades and allow them to maintain a pipeline of planned procurement activity.

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The DHSC itself will be the first organisation to go live on the new system and is scheduled to do so in June next year, PublicTechnology understands. Over the course of a 16-month period up to October 2021, a further nine central agencies will join as and when their equivalent existing contracts expire.

The two biggest users are each set to move to the new platform in spring 2021, with NHS England due to go live in March and NHS Digital to follow two months later. 

The government expects to require about 300 full licences of its chosen software tool for use across the 10 specified national organisations, in addition to a further 1,000 or so licences allowing partial functionality.

Many of the users of the new platform – including both NHS Digital and NHS England – currently use a procurement platform based on software from specialist firm Bravo. 

But some use different tools, and the intent behind the rollout of a standardised platform is to allow for economies of scale and more joined-up procurement activity.

Beyond the 10 organisations that have already set a timeline for adopting the new system, it is understood that NHS trusts and other health-service entities will not be mandated to adopt the new tool, but rather will be strongly encouraged that doing so will provide cost and efficiency benefits.

The procurement, which is being run by NHS Digital on behalf of the DHSC, is inviting bids up to a deadline of 24 September. The plan is to enter into a four-year contract with the chosen provider on 14 November.

The deal will be worth an estimated £4.5m plus VAT to the winning bidder.


Sam Trendall

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