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GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015: Andrew Rudd

Tuesday February 3rd, 2015

Andrew ruddAs anticipation grows ahead of the forthcoming GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015, which takes place in London on 24 March, Government Opportunities Magazine caught up with Andrew Rudd, PASS Consultant and former Chief Operating Officer at the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA).

NHS PASA was responsible for purchasing and supply strategy for the NHS in England and also managed national contracts covering £3.2bn of the NHS’s £20bn total non-pay expenditure. Mr Rudd has 25 years’ NHS purchasing experience at local, regional and national level.

Here Mr Rudd  talks about the biggest challenges facing the NHS and how suppliers and potential suppliers to the NHS can be more successful when bidding for tenders.


Q1. What has been the biggest change in the NHS recently that will affect suppliers?

A)     NHS structural change and financial challenges

The biggest change in the NHS has been the dual-pronged effect of massive structural transformation and the financial challenges that have fallen to the new organisations. This has led to significant reviews of where and how money is spent.

Ultimately the customer for an NHS supplier will be local; they will be in the organisation which consumes the product or service and that is where purchase orders will emanate from. I hear suppliers say ‘We’re not the usual supplier, so procurement won’t use us.’ What they mean in many cases is ‘We are not the contracted supplier’, so talk to the procurement staff and understand what is required to be the contracted supplier in that organisation. Is it a local contract, a collaborative contract managed elsewhere, an NHS Supplies catalogue item, a Crown Commercial Service contract, a Commercial Medicines Unit contract? What are the differences in procurement in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Do you understand the National Procurement Strategy?

How well informed are you about the structural changes in the NHS – both the governance and finance flows – and the NHS procurement changes to organisations, framework contracts, local contracting, financial contracting levels, etc? Get yourself informed.


Q2. What errors are commonly made when bidding for NHS contracts?

A)     Misunderstanding the NHS and the public sector

It sounds obvious, but understanding the environment your potential customers are working in is a prerequisite for meeting their needs. Suppliers often say ‘The rules and regulations are just too much to deal with’ – and yes, dealing with the public sector can be bureaucratic; rules to ensure value for taxpayers’ money can inadvertently stifle innovation. The UK Government and the EU are seeking to reduce the administrative burden on suppliers, particularly SMEs – see the consultation Making public sector procurement more accessible to SMEs. Contract opportunity sites and electronic tendering and catalogues are also making the market more accessible.

How well informed are you about the Health and Social Care Act, EU procurement rules and proposed changes, structural changes in the NHS, procurement v commissioning, etc? Get yourself up to date.


Q3. What tips would you give any supplier looking to sell to the NHS for the first time?

A)     Ensure value for money and provide evidence

New suppliers to the NHS often say ‘Our product/service is better and cheaper but they still won’t use us.’ The challenge here is to ensure that you achieve the buying organisation’s definition of value for money and that you can clearly evidence your case. Objectives such as reducing patient stay in hospital, improving patient safety, integration with other procedures and minimising waste are non-price criteria which can outweigh lowest price. Suppliers need to establish these decision-making criteria and their relevant weightings. The ‘bureaucratic’ tender route has the advantage that these criteria will be specified, but whether it is a tender or not a supplier needs to establish these criteria and ensure they are meeting them. You need to be ‘better’ at meeting these criteria and able to evidence this better than your competitors to get the order.

Suppliers also need to consider procurement’s own requirements – is it easy to place an order with you, do you meet NHS coding requirements, have you been or are you part of a third-party online catalogue, can your products be accessed via NHS Supply Chain, do you break bulk, what are your delivery times, etc?


To find out more about the GO NHS Procurement Conference 2015, and to secure your place for only £245, please visit


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