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NHSE releases SME action plan

By February 28, 2024No Comments

Last week, NHSE’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jacqui Rock, unveiled the organisation’s SME action plan, which sets out how the NHS will help to deliver their commitment to SMEs and enable the NHS to benefit from their significant value and contribution to patient care.

The value of working together across the NHS is emphasised, alongside utilising expertise through the newly established SME Advisory Group. The group will help NHSE to better understand the challenges facing SMEs and their experience of working with the NHS.

The primary aim is to improve market accessibility to SMEs and the NHS has asked the group to produce a list of their highest priority concerns which, if resolved, would bring the greatest benefit to business.

The group’s key priority is to explore the routes and guidance available for SMEs struggling to continue to provide services to the NHS due to circumstances outside of their control, a so-called ‘mayday’ event.

NHSE will improve engagement with SMEs to help to educate them about the organisation’s processes and improve access. Therefore, they have implemented a number of measures, including: having an accountable, senior SME board representative; improve engagement with SMEs through channels including the Advisory Group; and work with other public sector organisations to identify and adopt processes which have benefitted SME supply chain entry.

Moreover, by 2026, NHSE will develop case studies which give the SME perspective of doing business with the NHS and publicise those that help promote success; investigate unsuccessful SME procurement submissions to identify and address accordingly common issues; and appoint SME category champions to act as an advocate for the SME agenda, drive change and embed across the NHS in England.

A further key priority is improving visibility of NHS opportunities and encouraging SMEs participation in commercial activity through 6-monthly procurement reviews, additional engagement such as webinars and events, and holding early market engagement events online, by default, to remove barriers to participation.

Future goals over the next three years include: carrying out an annual survey measuring SME experience of doing business with the NHS; promote awareness and adjust internal processes to ensure SMEs are considered at all stages of procurement; and improve transparency on category and sourcing strategies.

Pleasingly, there is recognition of SMEs’ contribution to innovative technologies and their impact on the NHS, with the organisation eager to be involved in the early stages of development to ensure groundbreaking technologies can benefit patients more rapidly.

An educational piece is set to be developed to improve guidance and clarity on the correct process for innovation in order to encourage and increase use of innovation resources and support mechanisms. An NHS Supply Chain medical technology innovation dynamic purchasing system is also set to be established in future.

The plan also includes a raft of measures to support SMEs to meet carbon reduction plans and social value requirements.

Additionally, the plan outlines a number of actions for SMEs to follow to aid partnerships with the NHS. They can be seen, in full, here:

  • Seek and deploy collaborative approaches with other SMEs and larger businesses on common goals and challenges
  • Understand own capabilities and build robust, impactful case studies as evidence
  • Understand the NHS needs and challenges outlined in strategies and plans such as NHS Long Term Plan and the Strategic framework for NHS Commercial
  • Utilise right to receive constructive feedback
  • Tell us what is working with our supplier engagement and how we can improve
  • Become familiar with procurement routes available within all supply chain tiers
  • Build relationships/networks to complement intelligence gathering and consider joining a relevant trade association. Support/attend relevant industry events
  • Register with NHS events portal for access to free-to-attend engagement events

You can read the full plan here.