Navigating Health Care Supply Chains: Insights from the HCSA Winter Conference 2023

December 2023 – Last week, Unipart Consultancy attended the HCSA Winter Conference 2023 in Manchester. The two-day conference was a dynamic event that brought together over 800 professionals from the healthcare sector, inducing vibrant discussions focused on collaboration, data-driven strategies, and sustainable procurement practices.

The main focus of the conference was on the theme of ‘One NHS Procurement and Supply Chain’. There were more than 42 talks and workshops, and most highlighted the significance of working together as a unified system. The NHS strives to leverage its scale and multi-disciplinary excellence to tackle today’s challenges while addressing the changes for tomorrow.

Development of people and data

James Stanley, our Head of Strategy, highlighted the emphasis on people development as a key takeaway from the conference. He outlined that investing in people is crucial to drive success in procurement, and it needs to be noticed. The transformation of the NHS in recent years and years to come means that it is essential to ensure that team skills and knowledge are aligned to deliver value.

Another important theme that emerged from the conference was the use of data to access savings. Many sessions focused on the importance of using data to drive procurement decisions and identify opportunities for savings. The recent announcement of the Federated Data Platform presents a significant opportunity for healthcare supply chains to deliver quicker and deeper insight from the vast data that exists across the organisation. Enabling visibility and control within procurement and supply but in a secure and well-governed way, is the key to success.  

Another conference highlight was the launch of NHS England’s new procurement and supply chain strategic framework. This framework promotes collaboration and provides a concentrated focus on working together to achieve common goals. It’s a positive step towards improving procurement in the NHS and ensuring that procurement teams work together effectively.

Resilience and innovation in procurement

We drew attention to the growing importance of value-based procurement and clinical pathways, which presents an opportunity for procurement teams to make a significant impact on patient outcomes. These insights were drawn from a talk on aligning the Government’s MedTech Strategy with the new NHSE Commercial Strategy, led by David Lawson, Director of Medical Technology at DHSC and Glenn Hodgson, Head of Healthcare at GS1 UK. 

The session covered the importance of resilience and innovation in procurement and the need to overcome barriers. The speakers emphasised the role of data, systems, and SMEs in achieving equal access to opportunities and mentioned the upcoming playbook on Value-Based Procurement (VBP) for process consistency. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also reflected on the MDR in Europe and how it’s helping to shape and implement new regulations in the UK. Overall, the session emphasised the importance of data and systems to support supply chains and ultimately on advances to patient safety. 

A vibrant and energising conference to attend, thanks to the delegates, speakers and, of course, HCSA. The HCSA is doing important work to promote best practices in procurement, and the conference was a testament to their commitment to this mission.

Contact either Chris Dixon – or James Stanley –  to discuss how these insights can be applied to your procurement strategy.

Click here to explore how Unipart Consultancy transformed an NHS Trust facing challenges in meeting ED and RTT performance targets due to financial constraints. The goal was to instigate cultural and operational changes to enhance performance and equip the Trust for sustained improvement. An 18-month transformation programme focused on cultural and operational shifts, leading to a critical uplift in performance and establishing a foundation for continuous improvement.