Thirty two NHS trusts in north east England have implemented and begun using a procurement system intended to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
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The trusts within the North East Patches Shared Financial Systems Project are using the UKprocure eMarketplace to make purchases from an initial 22 suppliers who have signed up for the system
UKprocure could not how much the system would cost the NHS, but said efficiency savings from e-trading would be ploughed back into front-line NHS services. The system could complete 750,000 purchases a year, they believe.
The consortium members can now trade electronically with suppliers via the eMarketplace. This will create efficiency savings, which will be ploughed back into front-line NHS services, the trusts expect.
Bob Telford, programme director of North East Patches Shared Systems Project said, "The North East Patches eMarketplace is transforming the way the NHS and its suppliers do business with each other. From day one, the eMarketplace will deliver 32 NHS organisations, with a combined annual non-pay spend in excess of £500m."
The collaborative approach has already delivered significant benefits to the member organisations. It has enabled them to share development costs, pool expertise and work across organisational boundaries, he said.
In November the Department of Health announced a joint venture with IT services company Xansa to offer NHS trusts a centralised financial service that could expand its offering to e-commerce and payroll.
In 2001, the NHS proposed a single mandatory national integrated finance and e-commerce system that it predicts will produce savings of more than £1bn a year, but it never passed the pilot phase.
For the North East Patches, one link to the UKprocure eMarketplace enables access to supplier managed electronic catalogues, and provides a single technology platform and business process for managing electronic transmission of purchase orders, order status information and, in the next phase, electronic invoices.
The eMarketplace integrates seamlessly into the North East Patches' Oracle 11i Financial systems, to fully automate the flow of purchasing and management information.