NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has launched a consumer-style digital procurement hub to reduce cost and improve visibility, data management and ensure greater compliance in the health service.
The Edge4Health cloud-based marketplace was developed in partnership with technology firm Virtualstock, and has gone live to more than 1,000 NHS employees, who are using the platform to buy almost a million products such as syringes and laptops.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are the first trusts to use the service, with more than £8m of NHS spend transacted through the platform so far.
According to NHS SBS managing director David Morris, the system replaces applications supporting procurement that have been complex and difficult to use. He noted that by introducing benefits that are usual for consumers in the NHS, many barriers that have hindered efficiency will be eliminated.
“The meticulous work that has gone into building and refining a digital platform, which can benefit hundreds of individual NHS organisations, has delivered a robust solution that will transform NHS procurement for many years to come,” Morris added.
The Edge4Health is now being rolled out across the NHS. The system has been developed and refined in partnership with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust – led by NHS South of England Procurement Services (SoEPS), a hosted service of the Trust.
According to Alan Hoskins, director of procurement at SoEPS, the main attraction of the platform is the intuitive experience it provides, which reduces time spent with admin procedures related to purchases.
“We were particularly keen to enhance the user experience for those in our own Trust by providing them with an efficient, easy-to-use system,” Hoskins said.
“A big positive for us is having supplier-managed catalogues to enable the reallocation of resource, which allows our team to do more valuable work with suppliers around contract negotiations and monitoring, as well as more on the reporting side,” he said, adding that the platform has also reduced the number of queries related to invoices.
The announcement of the consumer-style procurement platform follows the launch of the NHS SBS Cloud Solutions Framework in September 2019, aimed at simplifying the purchasing of off-premise services for public sector organisations.
These include NHS organisations, local authorities, police forces, educational institutions and others, with the framework’s four-lot design aimed at providing them with access to end-to-end cloud systems.