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Effect of clinical engagement on value, standardisation, decision-making and savings in NHS product procurement

04 April 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 7



UK healthcare expenditure is now £193.8 billion a year. The procurement function is seen as central to driving efficiencies within the NHS. This comes with an increasing onus on clinicians, including nurses and allied health professionals, to accept procurement outcomes to realise efficiency savings, with or without prior engagement.


This empirical study seeks to examine whether clinical engagement in the procurement of healthcare products in the NHS is necessary to achieve value, savings and standardisation; it will thereby address a gap in the research.


A multi-method qualitative case study design was used, which included a survey and eight semi-structured interviews.


Results identified three factors that influence the achievement of value, savings and standardisation around clinical engagement: micro-level processes for clinical engagement; clinical stakeholders and clinical procurement professionals as experts at the centre of procurement activity; and clinical value in standardisation. A shift away from standardisation to resilience was identified, resulting from current market supply pressures.


This research brings empirically derived findings to address gaps in research, supports the benefit of clinical engagement through specific forums for collaboration at a trust level and provides a clinical/expert impact/preference matrix as a resource for procurement professionals to facilitate clinical engagement.

Annual procurement of products and services spending in the NHS was around £27 billion, with £6 billion spent on healthcare products used in delivering healthcare before the COVID-19 pandemic (UK Government, 2018). Since then, healthcare spending has grown a great deal (£193.8 billion) and procurement spending has increased (£32.1 billion) (Department of Health and Social Care, 2023). The procurement function within NHS organisations is seen as central to driving efficiencies and service effectiveness (Sanderson et al, 2015). This comes with an increasing onus on clinicians, including nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs), to accept procurement outcomes to realise efficiency savings, with or without their previous engagement.

Procurement is the term used to describe several processes associated with the acquisition of goods (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, 2021), and involves managing both internal and external stakeholder relationships. Procurement within the NHS is facilitated by three main procurement routes: nationally via NHS Supply Chain (NHSSC); external to a healthcare provider organisation through hubs; or internally within NHS trusts through direct agreements with suppliers (Boiko et al, 2020). Procurement within the NHS involves a complex set of actors and, more recently, is influenced by clinical procurement professionals (CPPs), which is a collective term that encompasses clinical procurement specialist nurses and AHPs employed within procurement.

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