New Digital Procurement Platform Delayed

A major new procurement platform intended to save millions of pounds has been delayed.

The online marketplace was compared to the infamous retailer Amazon, with NHS Shared Business Services suggesting that it will revolutionise the way that this critical part of the NHS works.

However, reports have indicated that the new platform will not be ready until the autumn.

Known as The Edge for Health, the platform has been funded by a joint investment from NHS Shared Business Services and the retail technology firm Virtualstock.

The platform is particularly intended to help the NHS deliver on recommendations from the Carter review on NHS efficiency.

However, while the platform is aimed at making savings from procurement, as envisaged by Lord Carter, it is not part of his or NHS Improvement’s own current programmes of work.

It had been planned for the procurement platform to be operable on ten sites by the end of this month, as previously stated by David Morris, managing director of NHS Shared Business Services.

But the sheer scale of developing the technology and integrating a user-friendly interface has apparently caused problems, particularly considering the many different NHS organisations involved.

Shared business services and Virtualstock have worked with eight trusts in order to develop the platform, all of whom will ultimately pilot the system once it is ready to be operable.

The system is considered particularly important, as the National Health Service spends in excess of £9 billion on procurement annually.

And the Carter Review estimated that nearly 10% of this figure could be saved, with potential for £700 million less to be proffered.

Commenting on the problems, the aforementioned Morris outlined the reasons behind the delay.

“Alongside Virtualstock we have made considerable progress in managing the process of introducing such a large scale project to the NHS. While we are eager to make the platform available to all NHS organisations as quickly as possible, we also recognise the crucial importance it has for their long term sustainability and are absolutely committed to ensuring it meets all of their requirements before being launched more widely.”

Trusts are reportedly excited about implementing the procurement system, with the clear benefit of saving money forefront in their motivations.

Previous efforts to produce a singular procurement catalogue in the NHS have failed due to issues with the underlying model and the complexity involved.


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