Three NHS Trusts in north east England are forecasting multi-million pound procurement savings due in part to a new, single technology system.

Humber & North Yorkshire Procurement Collaborative is responsible for some £550m of annual spend across the operations of Yorkshire & Scarborough, Hull and North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trusts.

The legal introduction of Integrated Care Systems in July 2022 has led to the consolidation of procurement processes at the three trusts into one operation, with streamlined governance and systems.

Edd James, Director of Procurement at the collaborative, hopes to achieve over £15m of savings per annum within five years due to better efficiency and increased purchasing power.

The efficiencies are largely possible due to the introduction of new technologies provided by e-procurement tech specialists Elcom Systems.

The solutions include: sourcing software for quicker supplier quotations; product catalogues shared across systems; integrated procurement software which can interface with finance programmes; inventory management with the ability to transfer stock between hospitals; electronic invoicing for sending orders and receiving invoices.

Mr James said he hoped that the figure of 266,000 invoices currently received each year by the trio of trusts could be significantly reduced – massively saving accounting costs and improving efficiency.

“It’s always been frustrating to see our staff having the latest in tracking and delivery apps for their orders at home, yet nothing similar is available at their workplace,” he said.

“In addition, some of our suppliers are sending us ten thousand invoices per year, each of which has to be individually dealt with. Better systems will improve the ordering process, avoid duplications, provide better information and reduce ordering and invoicing requirements.

“It’s also urgent that we get our teams across the trusts working together as one. We’re introducing standardised governance as well as systems, so the procurement operations can coordinate their activity and work together. That will in turn improve our purchasing power and allow us to negotiate prices with our suppliers.

“I expect we can create major savings through these systems. I joined two years ago and we’re already expecting £4.5m of savings this year – that’s a figure we can drive up significantly and I’m forecasting that we will double this within the next two years, with further savings to come.”

Elcom, which has UK offices in London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool, has already successfully deployed smart procurement with several NHS operations across the UK, including major projects with the Scottish Government and health trusts like North Central London NHS and South West London NHS.

Ian Slaughter, VP of Product at Elcom, said: “The introduction of the ICS model offers health trusts the opportunity to bring procurement and supply chain functions together to assist in driving efficiency.

“We know that technology offers an opportunity to streamline and economise services. However to date the problem has been a lack of overarching systems which provide a modular and holistic platform from which organisations can operate.

“Our work with the Humber & North Yorkshire Procurement Collaborative will offer further demonstrations of how sourcing, procurement and inventory software can be delivered to save NHS Trusts considerable amounts of time and money – allowing resources to be better dedicated to the treatment of patients.”

Mr James said: “We were looking to improve the digitisation journey in procurement, put a system in place across the three teams, and also interface into three e-finance systems.

“Elcom has delivered that elsewhere, and we spoke to Scottish Government, North Central London NHS and South West London NHS for references on the work they’ve done and the systems they’ve interfaced to, to give us the confidence that they would be able to do that work. We’re looking forward to seeing the benefits of the new systems.”

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