An electronic procurement (e-procurement) system used NHS-wide could save up to £5m per hospital, according to a recent Department of Health (DoH) report.
The NHS e-Procurement Strategy is a detailed plan of actions that the government claims could improve health services data and information.
It is part of the NHS Procurement Development Programme – a plan that intends to save the health service £1.5bn by financial year 2015-16.
The report says that by adopting an e-procurement system, annual savings of between £3 million and £5 million could be achieve for a 600-bed hospital.
The DoH added however, that “several years of concerted effort” was needed if such cost-cutting was to be genuinely achievable.
“The ambition of this strategy for is for all NHS purchase-to-pay transactions and all category management activities to be undertaken by electronic means to cover all non-pay expenditure,” says the document.
It adds that effort must come from the NHS landscape and its supplier base to achieve this ambition.
Barcoding of products and the European IT standard PEPPOL that allows supplier interaction with the public sector will be taken up under the strategy.
These aspects will become mandatory for NHS providers and suppliers through conditions of contract.
“This strategy will allow transparency throughout the NHS procurement process, simplifying the supply chain, driving cost efficiencies, increasing accuracy and allowing greater compliance,” claimed David Rabjohns, e-commerce enterprise architect at NHS Supply Chain.
“It will also enable a more unified system of procurement across the NHS, enabling product comparison, aggregation and standardisation across Trusts,” he added.