The Future of PPE in the NHS

The Future of PPE in the NHS

The Future of PPE in the NHS

September 2022

Between February 2020 and March 2022, the UK government distributed 19.8 billion items of personal protective equipment, or PPE. These were primarily for use by health and social care services in England, including the NHS. This was a huge increase on the 2.43 billion items of PPE equipment delivered by the government in 2019.

The pandemic caused a massive boom in the use of PPE, which made a real difference to public safety during the early stages of the pandemic. But as the UK’s pandemic response continues to shift, the future of PPE in the NHS looks uncertain.

If you’re hoping to contract with health and social care services in the UK, you need to understand what these institutions need. Keep reading, and we’ll tell you what you need to know about PPE equipment usage in the NHS. By looking at the past and the present, we’ll give you the insight you need to anticipate and plan for the future.

PPE Equipment Before the Pandemic

Before the pandemic, the global PPE equipment sector was dominated by a handful of suppliers. The UK public paid very little attention to how it was procured and used. It was seen as the province of intensive hospital-based care, rather than a necessity for public health.

But despite the unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was some interest in PPE before February 2020. That interest usually surged in response to terror events such as the 9/11 attacks, or disease outbreaks elsewhere in the world. The SARS outbreak of 2003, for example, raised questions about the UK’s approach to PPE use.

Those spikes of interest in PPE were short-lived and did not ultimately develop into policy. This left the UK in a vulnerable position at the outset of the pandemic when unprecedented demand and limited supply combined to create a crisis.

PPE Equipment During the Pandemic

The pandemic caused an abrupt shift to remote working, which interrupted supply chains around the world. The UK was no exception. Even worse, PPE supply chains were fragile enough to feel the full impact of both early lockdowns and surges in demand.

Personal protective equipment became a necessity for more than just the NHS. As masking became part of life in the UK, members of the public also struggled to find the PPE they needed. This further increased the pressure on PPE supply chains and risked leaving clinical settings short-handed.

Within the NHS, PPE became a matter of life and death. Front-line medical staff needed the means to protect themselves from exposure to Covid-19. Without that protection, staff sickness and absence risked even further pressure on the overextended NHS.

As a result, the UK government was forced to look beyond its existing supply chains to find the PPE it needed. Between February and July 2020, the UK spent £12 billion on PPE. That amounted to £10 million more than the same items would have cost in 2019.

The Costs and Benefits of PPE

The UK government had only two weeks’ worth of PPE stockpiled at the time the pandemic hit. What’s more, it had sourced the equipment it would need for an influenza pandemic – not the more infectious, more deadly coronavirus. This meant that it needed to pay over the odds for the supplies it needed once the pandemic hit.

Keeping the NHS well-stocked with PPE is an investment. Given the ongoing uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the potential risk of monkeypox outbreaks around the world, spending on PPE now could be the smartest possible move for the UK. It could prevent the government from needing to overspend later when prices are inflated due to emergency circumstances.

Investing in PPE also means keeping the NHS working. Front-line medical staff wearing PPE are less likely to contract sickness while working, and less likely to need time away to recover. Better staff health – and staff retention – will save the NHS money over time.

But the up-front costs of maintaining a robust supply of PPE are significant. The NHS is already expensive to maintain, and the political will to increase healthcare spending depends heavily on public opinion.

As the urgency of the pandemic begins to fade, the threat of complacency looms large. Will the UK government learn from the early scramble for overpriced PPE equipment, or will it allow PPE supplies to lapse again?

The Future of PPE

At present, face coverings – PPE or otherwise – are still a requirement in healthcare settings. That includes GP surgeries, hospitals, and care homes. The rules may have changed for the general population, but the level of caution in the NHS remains high.

While the pandemic remains a concern, it is unlikely that these restrictions will be lifted. At least within the NHS, demand for PPE is likely to continue at its current level for the immediate future.

And with masking requirements for the general public becoming more relaxed, the cost of PPE is likely to return to manageable levels. That means that the UK government will be prepared to continue investing in PPE supplies for NHS use.

Nothing is guaranteed, and the pandemic could easily upset our expectations yet again. But all around the world, countries are investing in protecting healthcare while relaxing their anti-Covid measures for the public. The UK’s policy so far has been closely aligned with that trend.

Shape the Future of the NHS

Predicting the new normal requires unprecedented insight. If your business is hoping to provide PPE equipment to the NHS, you need HCI’s vast wealth of data and connections to give you a competitive edge.

At HCI Contracts, we know the UK’s healthcare procurement landscape better than anyone. We provide real-time data analysis, as well as insight into historical contract awards, to help you execute your bids. We also have contacts across the industry, so we can put your business in touch with the people you need to know.

Contact us today, and let’s shape the future of UK healthcare together.

Is Cyber Security One of the Biggest Threats to the Stability of Healthcare?

Is cyber security one of the biggest threats to the stability of healthcare?

July 2022

Did you know that hackers hit a whopping 81% of all healthcare organisations in the UK in 2021?

The bad news doesn’t stop there. As our world slowly moves many of its operations into the digital sphere, the attack vectors are increasing tenfold. Data breaches increased by 68% in 2021, and the trend is only on the rise.

The NHS is making big strides with its online booking and NHS app, and yet this progress gives hackers more opportunities to compromise healthcare. Healthcare professionals must adopt rigorous cyber security solutions now. When ransomware threatens to steal confidential records and payment information, the cost of failure is higher than ever.

Healthcare cyber security is more important than ever, but luckily there are solutions to stop hackers in their tracks. In this article, you’ll learn about the healthcare challenges associated with increased cyber attacks, and what we can do.

What Unique Cyber Security Issues in Healthcare Affect This Industry?

The challenges in healthcare give hackers many ways to infiltrate and steal data. It makes healthcare cyber security specialised compared to the typical IT needs of other businesses.

For starters, healthcare is a treasure trove for hackers. It includes personal information and payment information that sells for a premium on the dark net. A user can change their password at any time, but it’s impossible for them to change sensitive personal medical data.

Further, this high-value information is often time-sensitive. Hackers know that they can demand exorbitant sums with ransomware because hospitals and clinics cannot delay. Some of this information is needed to deliver timely, crucial treatment to patients.

To take this further, cyber security challenges in healthcare can lead to the loss of innocent lives. In some cases, hackers can shut down the operations of a hospital for hours or even days. When an emergency room needs these systems to be operational, innocent people could die while waiting.

Finally, healthcare compliance is crucial. A hack could lead to your failure to comply with HIPAA and other security and privacy rules. Lack of compliance leads to a lack of trust with customers, which in turn only soils the service healthcare can provide.

Healthcare is a pivotal component of our society. Cyber security issues in healthcare could cause significant damage.

There’s an adage in the cyber security industry: it’s not a matter of if they hack you, but when. Healthcare providers that are prepared for the onslaught of cyber threats will fare better when that inevitable day comes.

Online Patient Databases

It used to be that patient records were stored on paper, on-site. However, in the modern era, most of these doctor/patient agreements and treatment plans are stored online. Rather than filling out paperwork, many patients do it all on their phones beforehand.

This amazing convenience means that hackers can gain access to this vital information with greater ease. For the reasons illustrated above, this can prove to be a terrifying weakness in the system.

Using the best practice can avoid these headaches. This includes storing medical records in encrypted form, limiting permissions to access them, and following privacy guidelines.

Medical Devices Connected to the IoT (Internet of Things)

The internet of things is a shorthand for the smart devices that make up our everyday life. This can be anything from a digital doorbell with a camera, to an air conditioner that you can control with your phone. These devices talk to each other and allow the free flow of data and coordination between disparate systems.

IoT in the medical industry has been a game-changer. It allows doctors to measure hundreds of patients from afar, with wearables and other monitoring devices that report changes and treatment reminders. Further, IoT allows for improved home care of the elderly.

In a hospital, this can handle everything from asset tracking (wheelchairs, defib units, etc.) to controlling the spread of infectious diseases.

IoT means that the attack surface for hackers has expanded exponentially. Instead of one single infiltration point, a hacker has hundreds of potential infil points. If the IT team failed to upgrade the firmware on a single wearable, that could be all a hacker needs to compromise the system.

Since the IoT is all about interconnectivity and interoperability, that means, compromising one system gives you access to them all. Rigorous cyber security solutions are key to ensuring all these potential holes are patched.

Telehealth and Mobile Health

The pandemic saw the rise of long-distance healthcare. This prevents the spread of infection, keeps sick or injured people at home, and reduces the crowding at the doctor’s office.

This also means that hackers can interrupt this sensitive process. Using end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and other techniques can reduce hackers’ influence in this area.

Tips for Cyber Security in Healthcare Industry

Sometimes the best things you can do are the simplest. Here are a few easy tips anyone can employ to improve their organisational cyber security:

  • Update all software, operating systems, and firmware in a timely manner
  • Update passwords on a regular basis with strong, long passphrases
  • Use two-factor authentication to reduce credential theft
  • Train staff to recognise scams such as phishing emails
  • Limit credentials to trusted staff alone
  • Resort to experts to customise a solution for your organisation

It’s important to note here that solutions to healthcare cyber security don’t need to be disruptive. They won’t reduce the quality of care, and they’ll save you from a lot of headaches in the long run. The NHS can and should improve the care it provides by bolstering it with top-of-the-line cyber security.

Protect Your Patient Information

Cyber security is no longer an option in healthcare, it’s a necessity. Cyber attacks are only on the rise, and those who fail to prepare will suffer severe consequences. Luckily, there is a great deal that your organisation can do to nip these attacks in the bud.

Cyber security challenges in healthcare are increasing with every passing year. Get in contact with experts who specialise in the healthcare industry to build your battle plan for when hackers come knocking.

Will innovation be put on hold as the healthcare sector recuperates pandemic losses?

Will Innovation Be Put on Hold as the Healthcare Sector Recuperates Pandemic Losses?

March 2022

There’s no denying that healthcare leaders of tomorrow will use the events of the COVID-19 pandemic as a marker for future innovation.

The pandemic was, in many respects, an incredible feat of rapid response, with doctors, medical professionals, scientists and more uniting to beat a new deadly virus – but the events of the last two years have placed incomparable strains on the global healthcare system.

Despite reported failings across the board, the overall response to the pandemic was incredible. As a sector, healthcare demonstrated impeccable resilience considering the unique situation it found itself in – tackling the everyday challenges of treating patients, while simultaneously weathering the storm associated with tackling a virus with, initially, no known treatments, together with supply chain issues, staff shortages, and financial difficulties.

Perhaps more impressive, while negotiating all of this, the healthcare sector was also continuing to innovate successfully.

What the experts have said

According to the IMF: “While the rapid and unprecedented collapse of production, trade, and employment may be reversed as the pandemic eases, historical data suggest that long-term economic consequences could persist for a generation or more”

Potentially, the healthcare sector could suffer as much, if not more, than other areas of the economy due to the intensity of its focus on tackling successive waves of COVID-19 while also struggling with the other challenges outlined above.

A report by McKinsey & Company titled Industry innovation: How has COVID-19 changed global healthcare? mentions how “cost pressures on healthcare systems will likely increase in the coming years due to growing health demands and macroeconomic challenges and this will require thoughtful prioritization and balancing of initiatives across the short and longer term.”

That got us thinking. With the inherent financial difficulties faced by the National Health Service, once the pandemic has been successfully negotiated, will future innovations be placed on hold while recuperation of losses is made?

Here, we delve into what we can expect of a sector which prides itself on continually innovating in a world beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

An already stretched NHS

On 18th February, Martha Gill wrote in the Evening Standard: “…these crises are expensive, too. Staff gaps are plugged by costly locum doctors. Mistakes made by exhausted staff can result in patients suing the hospital. Patching up the ward’s infrastructure after it breaks costs more than sorting it out in time. In short, giving the NHS just enough to keep it running above the waterline is a false economy – and only keeps it lurching from crisis to crisis.”

Ms Gill’s comments follow those of Chris Hopson, NHS Providers Chief Executive, who recently issued a ‘stark warning’ that the NHS’ waiting list ‒ already 5.3 million in May 2021 ‒ is very likely to continue to grow after the pandemic has settled as patients come forward for treatment who had held back during the crisis.

Hopson said: “Nobody in the NHS would want a waiting list of this size, but what’s happened is we’ve had two problems. Firstly, insufficient capacity in the NHS after a decade of the longest and deepest squeeze financial squeeze in NHS history…and then this huge disruption over the COVID period.”

What lies ahead is incredible uncertainty, particularly with the Government failing to back a plan to tackle NHS staff shortages. Combine difficulties associated with sourcing overseas workers thanks to Brexit and what the healthcare sector is left with, despite relatively high numbers of people entering training, is a number of years of continuing to weather this rather choppy storm with many staff already exhausted after two years treating COVID patients.

Something has to give

2021 was a fantastic year for innovation in healthcare. The COVID-19 vaccine was developed, if you didn’t already know, 3D heart scans and the revolutionary technology that facilitates them was rolled out across the NHS, while miniature capture cameras were brought into usage to help identify early signs of cancer. These are just a minute sample of what was brought to the table.

Although more than £13 billion of NHS debt was written off back in 2020 by then Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has promised an additional £12 billion to the NHS each year through a 1.25 per cent increase in National Insurance, is it going to be enough? Enough to fill staff vacancies, repair buildings and, above all, treat the millions of people on waiting lists?

It looks as if something else will be forced to suffer for the NHS to catch up with the backlog left by COVID and if it isn’t, once again, the staff, then it’s likely that the inspiring innovation within the system will take a hit.

That said, journalist Ross Clark has put together a ‘blue-print’ of how he believes the necessary £12 billion can be raised without hiking taxes, successfully alleviating stress on the NHS.

In his plan, Clark highlights that patients spend significantly longer in UK hospitals compared to our European neighbours, while a hyper-dependency on agency staff, erratic spending on medical supplies, and unproductive use of the NHS estate, all contribute to the rather daunting bill.

Medical equipment supply was one area which received particular attention during the pandemic – sourcing PPE from what has been more commonly referred to as “VIP lane” suppliers (a decision which has now been ruled as illegal) resulted in over the odds pricing while poor stock control saw thousands of masks and respirators wasted.

Innovation offers potential solutions to some of these problems, whether in the form of new, less invasive treatments that require shorter hospital stays, more precise testing that detects disease at an earlier stage when treatment is simpler and less expensive or in less glamorous ways such as more efficient stocktaking, reordering and aggregated purchasing. All these very different innovations can, after initial outlay, save money and improve efficiency, both of which are key goals for the NHS at present. However, whether such innovations are implemented or put on the back burner depends on whether decision makers choose to ‘spend to save’ or to rely on traditional methods.

There are certainly a number of areas of the NHS which require attention and, despite what may feel like the end of the pandemic for many of us on a day-to-day level, the healthcare sector will feel the effects for years to come. The areas of the sector which will be hit hardest by the inevitable financial pinching are yet to be seen but, there are definite improvements to be made.

When discussing ‘healthcare innovation’, the World Health Organization explains that “health innovation improves efficiency, effectiveness, quality, sustainability, safety, and affordability.”

Healthcare is continually changing and adapting – and so, innovation can be hard to quantify but, if we can recognise some form of tangible benefits being felt by the patients and, similarly, the field as a whole, then the NHS is certainly moving in the right direction.

If you want to find out more about NHS contracts and what they could mean for your business, get in touch with HCI today for a free trial.

Can wearable technology help the healthcare sector prepare for the unexpected?

Can Wearable Technology Help the Healthcare Sector Prepare for the Unexpected?

February 2022

Thanks to advances in smart phone technology coinciding with gym closures caused by lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, smart watches and alternative wearable health devices transitioned from something of a “novelty toy” to an important aspect of everyday life.

Depending on the device, model, and manufacturer, these devices have the capability to measure blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, ECG, and even heart rhythm irregularities.

Dr Gero Baidara, Clinical Director of GPDQ, speaking about the role of these devices during the pandemic noted: “This year, in particular the ability to read one’s oxygen saturation, heart rate, and temperature has been invaluable in monitoring whether or not the wearer is suffering from symptoms of COVID-19.”

While we may not be at a stage where we can transfer all trust about our medical safety to digital technologies, there is no denying these devices are carving out a future for themselves within the healthcare sector, and with good reason too. With that in mind, in this blog we explore whether wearable technology can successfully alleviate stress in the healthcare sector and ultimately assist it in preparing for the unexpected?

Health has gone digital

According to there were 350,000 digital health apps on the market in 2021– that number was up 90,000 on the previous year. It should come as no surprise that people want to know about their health, particularly when it’s easy to find out, and doesn’t involve visiting the doctor.

But, what about the NHS? Are they calling upon the help of these services in the same way as the general public?

Some hospitals have already been utilising the capabilities of wearable devices for quite some time, issuing them to patients with diabetes so they can actively monitor their health stats.

The Freestyle Libre device has been available on the NHS for almost three years now. Similar in size to a £2 coin, this device measures glucose levels and relays essential information to an e-reader or smartphone so users can receive real-time findings, allowing them to take action when necessary.

As for the global wearable medical devices market, well, it’s growing exponentially. As of 2019, the largest market by region was in the US & North America however Central Europe is anticipated to speed past their Trans-Atlantic counterparts over the course of the next decade, fuelling a market growth rate of almost 20%.

A global market analysis report details how: “the rising popularity of connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rapid growth of the technologically literate population globally are anticipated to fuel the demand for wearable technology over the forecast timeframe.”

Source: P&S Intelligence

How the pandemic highlighted a need for change

The first thing worth noting is the sheer volume of individuals now using digital healthcare technology to assist them with their regular healthcare needs. By the end of 2021 there were, for instance, more than 22 million active users of the NHS App.

In July 2021, the NHS reported that more than 50,000 people had registered organ donor preferences on the app during June while more than 600,000 prescriptions and 50,000 GP appointments were requested. While patients were actively prompted to use the digital platform, it could be said that the British public have actually become more accepting of technology’s place in their healthcare, and so now is the time to implement more.

A scheme in Northwest London called ‘wearables’ was used during the pandemic to analyse the condition of people who were quarantining before or after travelling abroad alongside healthcare workers who weren’t able to isolate at home. The scheme “collected the vital signs of people quarantining and round-the-clock data was monitored by a trained team.”

The technology involved varied. “Medical grade wearables can be as simple as a sensor that measures a single variable, such as a photoplethysmography. Others are more complex pieces of hardware worn around the arm or as a patch on the chest, that gather a selection of vital signs, with information typically relayed to clinicians for monitoring or analysis.”

The scheme was able to reduce the strain on the healthcare sector by limiting otherwise unavoidable transmission of COVID-19 and reducing use of PPE, which reached dangerously low stockpiles levels due to ongoing issues with supply chain and manufacturing.

In many respects, the scheme was a roaring success and emphasised just how much wearable technology has to offer an incredibly stretched healthcare provider.

Pritesh Mistry, Policy Team at The King’s Find, added: “Wearable devices can give a level of reassurance when people are being treated remotely that they’re not in danger.”

Perhaps the biggest stand-out feature of these devices is their ability to measure, record, and analyse round the clock and alert medical professionals when signs of concern or danger are reached.

NHS plans for wearable devices

Back in 2019 the NHS released the “Long Term Plan” which highlighted the healthcare service’s vision to implement digital devices across the board in a bid to limit hospital admissions and protect and reassure those who are being cared for remotely.

It also gave a view to the different types of NHS contracts suppliers can go on to win.

At present, the use of wearable devices remains minimal and is limited to certain areas of the country, perhaps because introducing such rapid developments during a period of such catastrophic turbulence as the pandemic would have been almost impossible. However, as we navigate the period ahead when it is clear that there will be continuing strain on the NHS, particularly hospitals, as they try to catch up with the backlog of procedures delayed by the pandemic whilst also dealing with intermittent COVID surges and exhausted staff, perhaps now is the best time to invest in options that will limit the strain on personnel and services.

A January 2019 report by the National Audit Office on NHS financial sustainability concluded that:

“The growth in waiting lists, the slippage in waiting times and the existence of substantial deficits in some parts of the system, offset by surpluses elsewhere, do not add up to a picture that we could describe as sustainable.”

The rapid introduction of wearable devices could reduce the need for routine and follow-up appointments while providing patients with reassurance that their condition is both stable and monitored, thereby enabling NHS resources to be focused on reducing waiting lists and providing urgent services.


It remains to be seen when and how the major introduction of wearable tech to the British healthcare system will occur. However, we are fairly confident its arrival will be in the not-too-distant future. With this arrival comes a rise in opportunity for a host of tech and software providers who are able to fulfil what are likely soon to be important healthcare contracts.

Supply chain inefficiencies in healthcare and why data is the solution

Supply Chain Inefficiencies in Healthcare and Why Data is the Solution

February 2022

One small abrasion to the supply chain link and the effects can be felt for years to come. A stark reminder of this came in 2021 when the Suez Canal blockade resulted in global losses of more than $9.6 billion a day.

When we think that the NHS spends approximately £27 billion every year on goods and services, and that recent announcements of additional NHS spend mean this figure will increase in the coming years, it’s clear why a lot of stakeholders are invested in ensuring the efficient operation of the healthcare supply chain.

International healthcare supply chain woes

Supply chain shortages and inefficiencies within the healthcare sector are by no means limited to the United Kingdom. It’s a global issue and as Douglas Hannah, writing in the Harvard Business Review, noted about the unpredictable state of the American system: “the pandemic demonstrated the devastating human and economic costs of this fragility: soaring prices and widespread shortages of critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), and health care facilities struggling to protect staff and patients.”

Hannah goes on to reference the problematic nature of sourcing globally in a bid to keep costs to a minimum, particularly during events such as the pandemic, and why local producers truly came to the rescue when international supply chains ultimately collapsed. As Hannah commented: “They may never achieve the low costs of large overseas factories, but they do offer much needed strengths, including rapid response times and accessibility in times of crisis.”

Issues come to light within the NHS supply chain

The problems with the healthcare’s supply chain are by no means a new issue but, for many, the problems were only exacerbated by the events of COVID-19. Back in February 2016, Lord Carter produced a report detailing a need to improve operational efficiencies within the NHS, bettering their methods of choosing, using, and purchasing supplies, and eliminating “unwarranted variation in procurement across the NHS.”

After the Carter report, the decision was made by the Department of Health and Social Care to launch the Procurement Transition Programme that, over the course of the following five years, would go on to deliver £2.4bn of savings for the NHS through the provision of “clinically assured, high quality products.”

There is no denying that the future will require additional analysis of healthcare procurement and NHS tendering, taking learnings from failings recognised during the pandemic. However, there’s another elephant in the room that has not only highlighted but compounded issues – Brexit.

The NHS Confederation published a report in mid-January 2022 detailing what’s required from the UK Government to tackle the challenges of leaving the EU’s single market, setting out an eight-point plan that includes “long-term mutual recognition for UK and EU medical research” an “agreed mutual recognition of medical devices” and “a review of barriers to research” that would help support collaboration in world-leading innovation.

The report also calls for data sharing and cooperation between the UK & the EU, highlighting the importance of rapidly addressing cross-border health threats such as COVID-19.

Data is something we recognise as a playing a key role in the future of NHS procurement and is, in many respects, a crucial ingredient for a successful healthcare supply chain. If utilised correctly, data can transform the procurement process, eliminating efficiencies throughout. Here, we take a look at how healthcare, and more specifically the NHS, can introduce data-driven methodologies into their DNA.

Big supply chain analytics

First, it’s worth defining what big supply chain analytics is. McKinsey’s Big data and the supply chain report notes that: “big supply chain analytics use data and quantitative methods to improve decision making activities across the supply chain. It expands the dataset for analysis beyond the traditional internal data held and applies powerful statistical methods to both new and existing data sources.”

But why is this important?

Using supply data like that mentioned above, which is more complex than traditional spend analysis and supplier performance reviews, buyers can successfully find opportunities for predictive risk management, monitoring ongoing situations such as bankruptcies, natural disasters, and strikes, and taking decisive action early on.

Data driven decision making is undoubtedly one the standout reasons for implementing such an approach to healthcare procurement – it allows for the analysis of purchase orders, the trialling of new suppliers, and the monitoring of shipments. Data analytics allows buyers to benchmark performance and explore critical questions that would otherwise remain unanswered.

Due to the sheer size of the NHS, making decisions will often depend on the acquisition and, similarly, the accuracy of third-party data. By incorporating all possible data and aligning it, the most relevant, accurate information can be obtained, once again informing appropriate decision making.

Beyond internal decision-making regarding supply chain processes, transportation, warehousing, and manufacturing can all be improved by the implementation of appropriate, effective data capture and analysis.

That said, there must be an emphasis on improving how data is shared and corroborated throughout teams and those operating within procurement. Collaboration and shared understanding sit at the forefront of any successful supply chain – you need to communicate effectively with your suppliers, business partners, and your own employees to ensure the delivery of results.


Here, we’ve touched on just some of the reasons why the healthcare supply chain requires the use of data in years to come something which we envisage will only become more important as digital technologies ramp up. Book a demo today and open up a world of opportunity within healthcare tendering.

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What you need to know about the UK and Global healthcare market

Image of Ambulance

What you need to know about the UK and Global Healthcare Market

January 2022

The latest UK and Global Healthcare Market report from Health Contracts International (HCI) is now available, providing suppliers with an insight into the trends and opportunities expected to be seen in 2022 and beyond, both in the UK healthcare sector and overseas. Here is a quick breakdown of the main points covered in more depth in the report:

  • The current UK health market

The recent Government spending review provided a few clues regarding the areas in UK healthcare that are likely to see increased public investment in light of the COVID pandemic, and with it the opportunities that could be on offer for suppliers.

  • Social Care

The UK Government has announced significant reforms to social care in England, which will not only see changes regarding how much patients pay for care but will also change the way adult social care is managed and promote greater patient choice, potentially providing more opportunities for suppliers.

  • Early engagement with buyers

Recent surveys conducted by Cadence Marketing on behalf of HCI show that early engagement with buyers is key for suppliers if they are to improve their chances of winning contracts and will be crucial to helping firms stand out from the inevitable competition.

  • Distribution of global healthcare spending

Overall global healthcare spending is on the rise according to the most recent WHO figures, but the difference in spending between the richest and poorest countries remains vast. Domestic public spending ‒ which is where most opportunities will lie for suppliers ‒ accounts for 59% of all global healthcare spending.

  • Benefits of accessing global contracts

As healthcare is a universal and ever-present need, there will always be opportunities for suppliers. Accessing global contracts can lead to increased profits, business expansion and the safeguarding of jobs in the UK, but there will be challenges to overcome when working overseas.

  • Organisations that can help with global contracts

Given the complexities involved in supplying overseas, those looking to supply abroad for the first time are likely to need support to help them negotiate the process. The Department for International Trade, Exporting is Great and Open to Export are among the organisations that can help.

  • Practices, rules, and things to look out for

Procurement is an area where countries and regions behave in very different ways, making it important for suppliers to familiarise themselves with the procurement rules in the country or of the organisation so that they do not ruin their chances of winning a tender through a procedural error.


Health Contracts International (HCI) is an innovative new business intelligence service for the UK and global healthcare market. HCI hosts a powerful database of live healthcare tenders, actionable insights on emerging opportunities, buyer/supplier/industry award analysis and specialist industry news, whilst also drawing on artificial intelligence and machine learning to hone each user’s experience of the portal.

If you’re not yet signed up, you can get started with a free HCI no obligation demonstration tailored to your business today and get full access to the various intelligence insights that HCI has to offer. Click here to get started.

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Top tips for winning health contracts

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Top Tips for Winning Health Contracts

January 2022

Winning public sector contracts in the healthcare sector can be extremely lucrative for suppliers, but there will be plenty of competition to stay ahead of, and some potentially complex and time-consuming processes to run through to secure health contracts. With this in mind, here are some tips to help you rise above your competitors and win those more health contracts:

Early Engagement with Buyers

You don’t have to wait for a contract notice to be published to make yourself known to buyers. Whether it’s through marketing activities, networking or attendance at trade shows such as P4H, you can develop and build relationships with healthcare sector buyers before they start the tendering process. Doing so could lead to advance notice of contract opportunities and the possibility of influencing buyers before they develop a contract specification, as well as helping you identify which opportunities are worth bidding for and improving the quality of your response by enabling you to tailor it to the organisation’s needs and concerns.

Read the tender documentation carefully

This should of course be obvious, but countless contract bids fail when suppliers have belatedly realised they do not meet all the requirements for the job. After you have seen the initial published contract notice, you generally request more detailed documentation which is likely to include the specification, pricing schedule, and instructions about how the tender is to be completed, and it is up to you to make sure all the information you provide is correct and relevant to the job.

The contract notice will also detail insurance requirements, any requirements of minimum turnover and any memberships of trade or professional registers required. You should also read the evaluation methodology to understand how the tender will be scored.  This will normally be split between pricing and quality but these days is likely also to include social value and environmental considerations. Simply offering a cheaper quote than others will not be enough, as buyers will look for the most economically advantageous tender, meaning that quality and life-cycle costing will be considered alongside price.

Improve your green credentials

Every sector is increasingly looking to improve their sustainability and lower their carbon footprint, and healthcare is no exception. Health Secretary Sajid Javid recently stated that from 2030 the NHS will no longer purchase from suppliers that are not aligned with its net zero ambitions. NHS England has also stated that all NHS suppliers will need to publish a carbon reduction plan. In this context, improving your environmental credentials to align with these goals will make your business much more attractive to buyers.

Ensure your reputation is as clean as possible

For any number of reasons, the NHS and the healthcare sector in general are not going to buy from suppliers who have earned a poor reputation, be that through modern slavery, breaches of environmental issues or health and safety standards, bribery and many other issues ‒ and you have to prove this for your supply chain as well as your own business. Ensuring your business and supply chains meet all relevant standards and regulations will mean you won’t be booted out of the tendering process early on.

At Health Contracts International (HCI) our intelligence platform provides users with live healthcare tenders, actionable insights on emerging opportunities, buyer/supplier/industry award analysis and specialist industry news, enabling users to learn of contract notices as soon as they are published and see the requirements of each bid. Get started by downloading our latest report focusing on the new opportunities in 2022 and beyond in the UK and global healthcare marketplace.

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Current trends and opportunities in the UK healthcare marketplace

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Current Trends and Opportunities in the UK Healthcare Marketplace

January 2022

Current Trends and Opportunities in the UK Healthcare Marketplace

The NHS accounts for around 80% of all healthcare spending in the UK and spends around £27 billion every year on goods and services, and with recent Government announcements of increased investment in the NHS in the years to come, there is no sign that the NHS will remain anything other than the key market for companies looking to supply to the health sector for the foreseeable future. 

The recent announcements from the UK Government’s latest spending review also provide a few clues as to where opportunities are likely to lie in the sector for suppliers in the near future. For instance, £2.3 billion will be invested over the next three years to transform diagnostic services, with at least 100 community diagnostic centres set to open across England. 

Also announced was a £2.1 billion investment to support the innovative use of digital technologies to improve connections and efficiencies in hospitals and other care organisations, while another £1.5 billion will support the development of new surgical hubs, increased bed capacity and equipment to help elective services recover from the pandemic, including surgeries and other medical procedures. 

All of this should inevitably lead to significant opportunities for suppliers looking to sell to the sector, especially those in the construction, IT, digital and medical equipment industries, but if the last year is anything to go by, opportunities will continue to present themselves for suppliers in almost every conceivable sector as investment in healthcare in the UK continues to gather pace. 

Over the course of January to October 2021, over 6,000 contracts were awarded in the UK healthcare sector, with suppliers ranging from those providing diagnostics equipment and pathology services, to training programmes and energy efficiency consultancy. Whatever your business provides, there will almost certainly be a market for it in healthcare. 

The value of these contracts ranged from billions of pounds to less than £1,000, demonstrating the breadth of the volume and scale of the goods and services required by the NHS and the size of the businesses supplying to them. The biggest contract saw a collection of suppliers agree to provide apprenticeship training and end-point assessment services to the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. 

Among the other large contracts was a £47 billion deal for a collection of construction firms to build educational and research buildings and residential real estate for the Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, and a £15 billion contract for a collection of firms to provide research and laboratory services for Public Health England. 

If you’re looking to supply to the healthcare sector, Health Contracts International’s (HCI) powerful database of live healthcare tenders, actionable insights on emerging opportunities, buyer/supplier/industry award analysis and specialist industry news will be indispensable. Get started by downloading our latest report, which focuses on emerging prospects in the UK and worldwide healthcare markets in 2022 and beyond. 

Get your copy >