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HCSA Patron Lord Hunt has updated HSJ on progress in revolutionising NHS procurement, by focusing on value-based healthcare, patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness, in ther article below.

"When I wrote for HSJ in October 2023 about the importance of driving forward the introduction of value-based procurement (VBP) across the NHS, I didn’t immediately realise how successful that call was going to be. Unlike so many calls for change and urgent change at that, it fell not on deaf but on listening ears across industry and in both Houses of Parliament.

Publication of my article was very promptly followed by a meeting that I had with the minister for NHS Procurement, Lord Markham, the head of the recently established MedTech directorate of the Department of Health and Social Care, David Lawson, and by medtech policy and procurement expert, Chris Whitehouse, of Whitehouse Communications.

The meeting built upon the earlier written parliamentary question I had asked on VBP in which the minister had, for the first time, put on parliamentary record the commitment that VBP should not only be about such issues as environmental impact, supply chain resilience and other social value considerations, but also should encompass patient experience and outcomes, and whole-system costs.

That ministerial commitment was a great foundation upon which to build my focused campaign on the issue, but it wasn’t enough to bring about the sort of change I had envisaged. However, the outcome of the meeting that ensued was a firm commitment that the MedTech directorate would develop and begin to roll out a new National Standard Evaluation VBP Methodology for inclusion in the MedTech Commercial Playbook that will shape purchasing activity in the sector moving forward.

As the tool becomes used, the maximum weighting that will be given in future to ‘price’ will be 40 per cent, with the remaining 60 per cent going to ‘value’ in its full sense

Early draft versions of the proposed new evaluation methodology, shared, with the minister’s permission, with key industry insiders give real weight, and clear instructions on how to assess the impact upon patients and care providers, reducing steps and costs in the patient pathway, and improving outcomes for those using the medical devices and products that are being purchased. My understanding is that the new methodology will begin to be rolled out imminently as a tool, with a view to it being made formal guidance in the autumn of this year, and embedded in NHS purchasing contracts as mandated for use by autumn next year, 2025.

As the tool becomes used, the maximum weighting that will be given in future to “price” will be 40 per cent, with the remaining 60 per cent going to “value” in its full sense. This is revolutionary stuff – the absence of which previously has been a gap shouting out to be filled.

The case study that I’d used to support the arguments for a full commitment to VBP was the recent study in which, where clinically appropriate, a patient upgraded from a cheap basic absorbent hygiene product (a pad held in place by fixation pants) to a slightly more costly product (a better shaped, single-piece, pull-up product). Cost per item was up, yes, but the average number of items used was reduced, leaks and associated laundry costs were slashed, staff time changing and cleaning patients reduced, skin infections and ulcers were down, patient mobility improved and falls reduced.

The Health Care Supply Association, of which I’m a patron, promoted my previous HSJ article on its website so that it was available to NHS procurement professionals all around the country. Interest in the study was piqued and the integrated care system procurement leads have been contacting healthcare product suppliers, Essity, who undertook the study, to find out more about the huge cost savings that the approach can deliver through improved patient outcomes.

Who would have thought that the humble absorbent continence pad could have such an impact, so quickly, on something as important as NHS procurement policy and practice – but it shows what can be delivered when a campaign for change is built upon irrefutable evidence that a change will be a win-win for patients, for carers and NHS and social care providers alike, particularly when it is taken forward in a constructive, cross-party campaign."

Source: HSJ

Date: 30 April

Posted in News on Apr 30, 2024

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