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Local leaders’ use of different procurement routes has been ‘completely out of control’, NHS England’s chief procurement officer has said, as she revealed there will be new restrictions from April.

Jacqui Rock said local organisations “will not be allowed to buy from non-accredited frameworks” from next April, with a list of centrally approved frameworks due to be published in January.

It is unclear what steps NHSE can and will take to enforce this.

Ms Rock also told the Healthcare Financial Management Association conference that NHSE is pushing hard on the accreditation process “because [the NHS framework landscape] was the Wild West – I make no apologies for my language. It was out of control, completely out of control.”

She has previously said NHS organisations are using around 1,400 frameworks to buy goods and services, from approximately 60 framework suppliers. These include NHS and government organisations, such as NHSE itself and the Crown Commercial Service, as well as private firms.

In 2022, the centre produced a list of 36 accredited frameworks to be used when buying IT and digital products and services. The guidance published alongside that list said trusts using non-accredited frameworks for a procurement process would be unable to use central or shared funding for that purchase.

However, this only affected a small proportion of purchases in that spend category as central funding was available to only a few specific programmes and priorities, such as for electronic patient records.

At a separate event last week, Ms Rock said NHSE would first apply pressure on procurement teams not adhering to the accredited lists through trust and system senior leaders, before looking to restrict funding.

She said: “All of the ICS chief execs and CFOs are on board with this… So that would be my first point of call, when trusts go… off-piste, shall we say, and start setting up frameworks that haven’t been accredited or start doing things against the nature and the spirit of having accredited frameworks.”

That would be strike one, she explained, while “of course, strike two is the money. So, if you continue after we’ve had discussions… we will remove funding.”

The framework accreditation process is one of 26 priorities set out in a new strategic framework for NHS commercial, published last week.

Ms Rock also told the HFMA conference a new way of buying energy across the NHS will be launched next week, saying the service had been buying energy in 200 different ways which “made no sense at all”.

She described the new process as moving to “energy baskets”. According to the Crown Commercial Service, an energy basket is when required volumes are grouped to enable bulk buying.

Source: HSJ

Date: 7 December

Posted in News on Dec 07, 2023

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