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Meet the Director: Keith Rowley

Wednesday October 14th, 2015

Keith RowleyIn anticipation of his speech at the forthcoming GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015, NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOE CPC) Managing Director Keith Rowley spoke to Government Opportunities features writer Julie Shennan about his work and his hopes for the event.

Looking ahead to his address to ‘Selling to the NHS’, the GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015, being held at the Manchester Conference Centre on 3 November, NOE CPC Managing Director Mr Rowley confessed: “It feels both exciting and nerve-wracking to be presenting at the GO NHS Procurement Conference; I am excited about speaking, but as might be expected, a bit nervous about taking the stage!”

Mr Rowley continued: “I will be talking about using NHS collaboration to reduce duplication and deliver more intelligent procurement solutions, with better results.

“Conference attendees who come along to my speech will hear how NOE CPC is working collaboratively – with partners – to deliver better procurement solutions to the NHS.”

Mr Rowley joined the NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative as Commercial Director in October 2011, being appointed to the post of Managing Director in November 2012.

He now leads NHS organisational strategy to ensure customers achieve clear and demonstrable value, savings and efficiencies through working collaboratively.

However, Mr Rowley hasn’t always worked in healthcare, as he explained: “Having graduated in 1997, I spent 14 years with Computacenter, an IT service and solutions provider. At Computacenter I had various roles in sales, commercial and operations, working within the public and private sector.”

This role whetted his appetite for procurement, so when he sought new challenges Mr Rowley ventured into the healthcare sector, joining NOE CPC.

He said: “At NOE CPC I lead a team of highly skilled and experienced procurement professionals, whose job is to deliver cash-releasing savings to the NHS.

“We do this by helping Trusts target strategic non-pay spend areas, appropriately leveraging economies of scale while maintaining high levels of patient care. This is an ever-increasing challenge in this age of austerity and growing pressures in the NHS.”

These pressures, Mr Rowley said, have been partly addressed in Lord Carter’s recent Review of Operational Productivity in NHS partners report.

Mr Rowley elaborated: “Some of the main procurement challenges in today’s NHS have been noted in the Carter Report; for instance the idea of creating a standardised online catalogue for NHS Commoditised Goods as well as issues with data and information.”

However, Mr Rowley cautioned, the real challenge lay in streamlining the NHS without losing the precision of regional buying.

He said: “I believe the approach of a national policy is good, if it improves information to support more intelligent procurement, collaboration and aggregation, and drives effective competition.

“My concern is that we assume a one size fits all model for things such as the core list; standardising NHS paper might make sense, but standardising funeral services does not. Funeral services – along with other goods and services – differ greatly among areas and regions.”

He added: “NHS procurement teams have to be intelligent about the way we buy. Carter promotes efficiency by examining both supply and demand issues in the NHS, and advocates a more intelligent and commercial approach. I support this thinking; however, I believe one of the keys lies in not under-estimating the time, resources and complexities of achieving change.”

Looking to the future, Mr Rowley reflected upon the implications that regional devolution could bring.

He said: “I hope the GM Devolution Deal encourages long-term solutions to the challenges the NHS faces in balancing its demand and supply issues. I also hope the agreement will encourage a more commercial approach to NHS procurement, which will enable better service and even greater value to be achieved.”

Improving service in the NHS is something Mr Rowley is passionate about.

He explained: “NOE CPC’s membership includes 53 different NHS organisations, and last year the Collaborative delivered a 46% increase in savings, resulting in £14.6m worth of efficiencies to boost Trusts’ bottom lines.

“NOE CPC is also increasingly working with other NHS procurement organisations to encourage collaboration in order to avoid duplication and deliver more efficient and effective procurement solutions.”

These solutions, Mr Rowley said, were just some of the topics he looked forward to discussing at the GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015.

He concluded: “The GO NHS Conference 2015 is a great opportunity for procurement officials to take a step back, reflect on the sector, and learn about new developments that can help deliver greater value in their day to day role.”

For more information or to book a place at GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015 visit the event website.

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