Procurement director Simon Walsh on why national leadership will be essential to the 21st century NHS


The head of a 60-strong procurement team looking after a £1 billion budget, 13,500 people and the purchase of one million items every year, Simon Walsh sets out the case for national leadership in NHS procurement.

Speaking about the future direction of travel for the sector, the procurement director at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust makes it clear that a cohesive, coordinated system will be critical in years to come:

“While in many ways the Department of Health is doing a great job to support Trusts and NHS Improvement is providing strategic leadership and practical help with regards to agency staff and NHS Supply Chain, there is a need for clear leadership and direction.

“The idea to date has been that the NHS will be able to gradually improve the coordination of procurement but the reality is that there is a need for clear direction, which can only come from bodies that have a national footprint and a national mandate.

“NHS procurement is not a single structure organisation and this amplifies the need for leadership. One person does not purchase one item for the entire NHS across the country, as is likely the case in other industry sectors such as grocery or general merchandise.”

In his two page interview with B Magazine, Simon gives examples of successful coordination within NHS procurement, including the successful purchasing model that Banner operates with the NHS both nationally and locally.

Simon also highlights two directives that he believes set the scene for national leadership in the future, the use of agency staff in the NHS and the purchase of high end devices, expensive medical implants and medical devices.

To read more and find out how the Central Manchester Trust moved from being the worst performing NHS procurement department with the least resource, to one of the top NHS procurement departments in the country, view the issue of B Magazine here.

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