UK Future Procurement

What Does the Future of UK Healthcare Procurement Look Like?

As a supplier to the UK National Health Service (NHS), you know all too well the importance of staying ahead of the curve in healthcare procurement. With the rapid pace of technological innovation, changing regulations, and evolving business models, staying informed and adapting to the changing landscape is crucial.


That's why we've put together this informative article to explore the future of UK healthcare procurement and how it can benefit suppliers like you.


Let’s look closer into the industry trends, challenges, and opportunities, from the growing importance of digitisation and data analytics to the increasing focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing.

The Current State of UK Healthcare Procurement

The NHS is the largest single purchaser of healthcare services in the UK, and procurement is a critical function that ensures the provision of high-quality, cost-effective healthcare services to patients.


At present, the procurement process for the NHS is complex, with numerous regulations and guidelines to follow. The process typically involves a competitive tendering process, where suppliers are required to submit bids in response to a specific request for proposals. The procurement process is overseen by NHS Supply Chain, a centralised organisation that manages the procurement and supply of goods and services to the NHS.


The current procurement system faces several challenges, including long procurement cycles, high administrative costs, and limited opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in the tendering process. Additionally, the impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to supply chain disruptions and increased demand for healthcare services, adding further pressure on the procurement process.


Despite these challenges, there are also opportunities for suppliers to the NHS.


The NHS Long Term Plan, published in 2019, sets out a vision for the future of healthcare in the UK, including an increased focus on prevention, integration of services, and digital innovation. This presents a significant opportunity for suppliers to provide innovative products and services that align with the NHS's strategic goals.

The Future of UK Healthcare Procurement

The future of UK healthcare procurement is set to be shaped by several trends and developments that are already having an impact on the industry. These include:

Digitization and Data Analytics

The use of digital technologies and data analytics is set to transform healthcare procurement in the UK. From automating procurement processes to improving supply chain visibility and tracking, digitisation is set to increase efficiency and transparency in procurement.

Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

With an increasing focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing, healthcare procurement professionals will need to consider the social and environmental impact of their procurement decisions. This includes carbon emissions, waste reduction, and fair labour practices.

Evolving Buyer-Supplier Relationships

As the healthcare sector evolves, so will the relationships between buyers and suppliers. Collaborative partnerships and joint ventures are becoming more common, with suppliers taking on a more strategic role in procurement decisions.

Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies are set to transform healthcare procurement in the UK. With techs like AI, blockchain, and other innovations, UK healthcare facilities can reap the benefits of greater automation, transparency, and efficiency in procurement processes and allow for more sophisticated data analysis and decision-making.

Changing Regulations and Policies

Changes in regulations and policies, including the impact of Brexit and new procurement frameworks, will have a significant impact on healthcare procurement in the UK. Procurement professionals will need to stay informed and adapt to these changes to ensure compliance and success.

How to Optimize Healthcare Procurement Strategies for the Future

To succeed in healthcare procurement in the UK, the key is to optimise procurement strategies for the future. Here are some best practices for healthcare procurement professionals:

Embrace Digitization

As the healthcare sector becomes increasingly digitised, procurement professionals need to embrace digital technologies and data analytics to increase efficiency and transparency in procurement processes. This includes using e-procurement systems, automation tools, and data analytics software to optimise procurement decisions.


Prioritise Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing

Healthcare procurement professionals should prioritise sustainability and ethical sourcing in their procurement decisions. This may include considering the social and environmental impact of procurement decisions and/or selecting suppliers that align with ethical and sustainability standards.

Foster Collaborative Partnerships

In the future of UK healthcare procurement, collaborative partnerships and joint ventures will become more important than ever before. Collaborative partnerships allow healthcare procurement professionals to leverage supplier expertise and optimise procurement decisions.


Additionally, joint ventures build collaborative partnerships in healthcare procurement, which may involve sharing resources, expertise, or risks to achieve a common objective.

Leverage Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and integrative care systems can be used to transform UK procurement. Procurement professionals should explore these technologies and find ways to leverage them to automate procurement processes, increase transparency, and improve decision-making.

Stay Informed and Adapt to Changing Regulations

Changes in regulations and policies will have a significant impact on healthcare procurement in the UK. Procurement professionals need to stay informed and adapt to these changes to ensure compliance and success.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

As we've seen, the future of UK healthcare procurement is set to be shaped by a range of trends and developments, from digitisation and sustainability to emerging technologies and changing regulations. But for suppliers to the NHS, this presents both challenges and opportunities.


To stay ahead of the curve, remember to stay informed, adapt to the changing landscape, and optimise procurement strategies. Adapting to the changing landscape is particularly important. With emerging technologies and changing regulations, healthcare procurement professionals need to be flexible and adaptable to stay ahead.


If you’re ready to optimise your healthcare procurement strategy for the future, Healthcare Contracts International (HCI) is here to help. With our unique suite of precision intelligence, technology, and trend data, we provide businesses with the tools they need to create UK healthcare contracts.


As a dedicated healthcare platform developed by BiP Solutions, we have over 38 years of experience identifying and managing market intelligence, helping buyers and suppliers across the healthcare sector come together more effectively. Visit our website or contact our team to achieve your healthcare procurement goals.

The impact of the war in Ukraine on the NHS supply chain

The war between Russia and Ukraine has entered its second year and because it’s still an active conflict, it has had a significant impact on several operations systems, including the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. In its effort to provide medical supplies to Ukraine throughout this ordeal, the UK’s medical supply chain has become strained. As such, the NHS is facing new challenges when striving to deliver healthcare services to patients near and far.


This article will cover the obstacles that the NHS is facing as a result of the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In addition, we’ll discuss a few potential solutions to consider in order to lessen these effects.

The National Health Service’s Key Obstacles

The NHS has faced an array of burdensome obstacles due to the conflict in Ukraine and the UK’s attempts to provide the best possible medical assistance. Some of the most prominent issues the NHS has been trying to overcome include the following.

Healthcare Service Delivery

The war has caused a ripple effect throughout the healthcare industry, resulting in decreased access to raw materials, increased demands for equipment and services, and delays along the supply chain.


The NHS is facing delays when it comes to delivering critical medical supplies and services on time. Because medical supply chains have become disrupted and strained, it’s become more difficult for healthcare workers to maintain the quality and accessibility of services. Though the demand for medical supplies and services has increased, the inventory available, the route between sellers and receivers, and the rate of manufacturing new materials have thinned out the accessibility to medical resources. There is simply not enough personnel or equipment to go around with the capabilities of current vendors or suppliers.

Increased Product & Service Demands

The number of patients needing care has increased as a result of the war, and as such, the demand for medical equipment and services has experienced an influx as well. To meet the needs of the growing sea of patients, the NHS may need to examine new procurement options, resource allocation processes, and prioritisation of equipment and services based on who presents the greatest need.


In light of the dangers facing Ukraine, soldiers and citizens alike have expressed more and more need for critical healthcare services. Though providing aid to Ukraine is a priority for UK healthcare workers, the desire to help is not enough to overcome the supply chain challenges affecting the global market.

Disrupted Supply Routes

The conflict has also caused problems with the usual supply routes the NHS utilises to obtain necessary medical supplies. Because of this, the NHS has had to explore other supplier routes and offerings, which has led to delays and additional costs. In addition, there is not always a guarantee that new suppliers and route options will be able to satisfy the growing need for fast, adequate access to medical care.

Solutions Worth Considering

With demand reaching newer highs and the number of resources to distribute getting lower as time passes, it’s essential that the NHS discovers solutions to supply chain issues. Part of the problem and solution lies with manufacturers and vendors, which play an essential role in maintaining the stability of the inventory levels available to healthcare providers. In addition to developing more well-rounded contractual agreements, there is more that businesses in the healthcare industry can do to keep healthcare delivery consistent.

Streamlining Supply Chains

Clear, detailed healthcare contracts provide a crucial framework for the procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and use of medical supplies, equipment, and services. Thorough contracts aim to outline each party’s responsibility to the other, which ensures that everyone involved is on the same page in terms of their agreements. By improving contract quality and streamlining contractual processes, suppliers and medical companies alike can improve efficiency and reduce resource disruptions.

Encouraging Collaboration and Innovation

Evaluating healthcare contracts encourages both parties to work together to develop new ideas and solutions for common supply chain problems. The opportunity to collaborate can not only strengthen professional relationships throughout the healthcare industry, but doing so promotes the adoption of more efficient practises and the implementation of new tools and technologies.


Additionally, such collaborations can help healthcare organisations adapt to changes and upcoming challenges in the market, like those presented by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Accessing a Diverse Supplier Base

Bids for healthcare-related products and services allow organisations to reach a greater selection of potential suppliers, which increases the range of products and services they have to choose from. Using healthcare bidding to increase access to suppliers may not only provide a wider array of options for healthcare providers, but the added competition between industry suppliers stands to improve the cost and quality of the solutions available.


A diverse supply chain is more capable of adjusting to the situations at hand (such as sudden natural disasters or notable market fluctuations). By keeping a variety of services and options available to frontline healthcare staff, vendors, manufacturers, and suppliers provide their clients with a greater sense of control.

More Efficient Usage of Data

Using Health Contracts International’s (HCI) data organisation and analytical options can empower medical businesses to determine the most appropriate and in-demand opportunities to pursue. With the help of AI and in-depth market research, HCI assists businesses in making decisions based on data and analysis.

Managing Supply Chain Obstacles

As we've illustrated throughout this article, the ongoing war in Ukraine has had far-reaching effects on the healthcare industry as a whole, especially when it comes to medical supply chain efficiency. The challenges and uncertainties brought about by this now two-year conflict have made it necessary for the NHS to return to the drawing board in order to adopt new ideas and adapt to the challenges ahead.


To navigate the complexities of global healthcare supply chains and stay ahead of emerging trends, consider partnering with HCI.


HCI offers a comprehensive solution powered by artificial intelligence and industry expertise from BiP Solutions, helping businesses succeed in both the public and private sector healthcare environments. With its unique suite of precision intelligence, technology, and trend data, HCI provides unparallelled support in identifying and winning more opportunities.


To learn more about how Health Contracts International can help your business thrive amidst uncertainties, visit our website and request a demo.

healthcare marketplace procurement

What is Being Bought in The Healthcare Marketplace in 2023

What is Being Bought in the Healthcare Marketplace in 2023?

Healthcare purchasing trends are constantly shifting to integrate the newest technologies, improving the quality of patient care overall by putting the patient first. The healthcare industry is witnessing many emerging trends in purchasing habits in 2023, with some products, services, and technologies driving change in the healthcare market. These advancements are incredibly promising for the future of healthcare.


However, determining the exact trends to watch out for can be challenging. Our guide will provide expert insights into the latest healthcare purchasing trends to ensure you can lead your healthiest life and provide customers with the best service possible. Let’s get started!

What’s Being Bought in the Healthcare Marketplace?

The healthcare market is flourishing because of many technological and digital advancements that have significantly transformed the industry. Below is a breakdown of the primary healthcare products driving the industry forward.

Artificial Intelligence

Like many industries, a highly sought-after asset in the current healthcare sector is technology with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. AI products are increasingly important for healthcare providers to personalise treatment, gather accurate patient insights, and improve patient outcomes.


AI in healthcare is a massively expanding market. According to one report, AI in healthcare is estimated to reach a total value of USD 308.9 billion by 2030, with a 35 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2022-2030.


Wearable healthcare products are another trend to watch out for in the healthcare marketplace in 2023, and looking ahead. Wearable medical devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers are essential to daily life for many people and can cover various health purposes to meet customer needs. These devices constantly measure everything from blood pressure to ECG and heart rhythm irregularities to protect wearers.


Suppliers for public sector healthcare can expect to see more wearable devices appearing in the marketplace in years to come as digitization in healthcare coincides with the increase in smart technology.


The COVID-19 pandemic has massively shifted how people approach healthcare in recent years, and telehealth is one of the most notable innovations in healthcare. These services allow patients to communicate virtually with their care provider rather than meeting in person and are a cost-effective and convenient solution.


In 2023, telemedicine products will continue to be essential for healthcare workers and patients. Telehealth is faster than traditional appointments and simplifies the integration of patient information from numerous appointments into a single platform. Given that 55 percent of patients are more satisfied with telehealth services than traditional in-person services, paying attention to this market sector is necessary for healthcare suppliers.

Health Apps

Healthcare apps allow patients to access their information from their digital devices. These innovative apps quickly provide an electronic patient record system that allows patients and providers efficient access to relevant patient details to stay informed at all times.


Nanotechnology is increasingly relevant in healthcare and involves manipulating materials at the molecular and atomic levels. In healthcare, nanotechnology is used to develop various diagnostic tools and healthcare products, including the following:

  1. Drug Delivery: nanotechnology helps direct drugs to specific parts of the patient's body more effectively and efficiently than traditional methods.
  2. Imaging: nanotechnology is being explored as a way of improving imaging techniques. It is designed to bind to specific molecules in the body, allowing doctors to visualise disease processes at a molecular level.
  3. Tissue Regeneration: nanotechnology is used to develop materials that can help regenerate damaged tissues causing problems for the patient and mimic the extracellular matrix, providing a scaffold for cells to grow and regenerate.
  4. Cancer Treatment: nanotechnology advancements allow these products to target cancer cells directly, reducing damage to healthy tissues surrounding the cancerous cells. Nanoparticles can be loaded with medicine for targeted, effective cancer treatments.

What to Know About NHS Tenders

Tendering is a vital process in the healthcare marketplace in 2023 and the world of healthcare contracts. Understanding how to get healthcare contracts is simpler by breaking down NHS tenders. Tendering describes the process where a business is invited to bid on health care contracts from public-sector organisations for specific operational purposes.


The UK National Health Service (NHS) procures in-demand goods from suppliers for healthcare buyers seeking specific goods and services to meet patient needs. For many companies, NHS tenders are hard to win, meaning that your product must have a broader appeal to be selected.


The tendering process ensures that the NHS gets the best possible value for the cost when it contracts services. Providers interested in bidding for a particular contract must submit a detailed proposal, which outlines how they plan to deliver the required service, the costs involved, and any other relevant information.

How to Get Healthcare Contracts

Understanding how to get healthcare contracts with the NHS can help suppliers profit and thrive. Receiving healthcare contracts requires the following actions:

  • Registering with the NHS Supply Chain to access contract opportunities, supplier events, and information about upcoming tenders
  • Identifying various tender opportunities through the NHS to identify opportunities that match your expertise.
  • Reviewing the tender document carefully to understand the scope of the contract, selection criteria, evaluation process, and submission requirements
  • Preparing a contract bid based on how well you can deliver the services in your proposal
  • Submitting the bid to the NHS per the submission requirements
  • Awaiting feedback from the NHS on whether or not your bid is successful

Find Out More About Healthcare Contracts With HCI Contracts

Understanding the latest trends in healthcare can help you navigate NHS tenders and secure a contract you’re satisfied with. Staying current on the latest trends and advancements in the healthcare marketplace requires constant insights and expert guidance to sustain your business in an increasingly competitive industry. Services like Health Contracts International (HCI) provide the knowledge necessary to make intelligent decisions for your financial future.


HCI Contracts offers expert advice on all things tendering to ensure you know how to get healthcare contracts without all the hassle. Get a free demo from HCI Contracts today to identify what’s selling in the healthcare market and learn how to secure healthcare contracts.

How Can NHS Suppliers Help Buyers Achieve Net Zero Targets

How Can NHS Suppliers Help Buyers Achieve Net Zero Targets?

The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest and most comprehensive healthcare system in the United Kingdom. It is also one of the world's largest employers, with over 1.2 million staff members.

In recent years, the NHS has made a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 2020, which will help it reach its net zero targets. However, reports have shown that the NHS is not on track to hit these targets.

In this blog post, we will discuss how NHS contracts and different framework agreements can help them reach their net zero goals.

Keep reading to discover the NHS contracts, if contract opportunities will help them to hit targets on carbon reduction, and much more.

What Are the NHS Carbon Reduction Plans?

The NHS has set a target to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050.

In order to achieve this, they have made a number of plans and changes. For example, they have committed to switching to low-carbon energy sources, such as renewable energy.

They have also invested in energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting and insulation. In addition, the NHS has been reviewing their commissioning process with suppliers to help them reduce their carbon emissions.

Moreover, the NHS has been working to raise awareness of climate change and its impact on health. They have been delivering educational campaigns, such as the 'Act on CO2' campaign.

What Are Their Direct and Indirect Emissions?

Direct emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, oil, and coal. These are used for heating buildings and powering equipment.

Indirect emissions are those that are produced when goods or services are purchased from other organizations. For example, the emissions from manufacturing or transportation.

The NHS has both direct and indirect emissions. However, the majority of their emissions come from indirect sources. This is because most of the goods and services that they purchase are produced using fossil fuels.

In order to reduce their emissions, the NHS needs to work with suppliers and government organisations who can help them switch to low-carbon alternatives.

Furthermore, the government has set a target for the NHS to reduce its emissions by 30% by the year 2025.

In order to meet this target, the NHS will need to make significant changes. For example, they may need to purchase low-carbon goods and services or switch to renewable energy sources.

Are There Any Future/Upcoming Changes in Requirements?

In April 2019, the government introduced a new mandatory requirement for all public sector organizations to report their carbon emissions. This includes emissions from both direct and indirect sources.

The reporting must be done annually, and the first reports are due in April 2020. In addition, the government has said that it will introduce a new target for the public sector to reduce its emissions by 30% by the year 2025.

This means that all organizations, including the NHS, will need to make further reductions in order to meet this target.

To ensure that they are able to meet these new requirements, contractors will need to work with the NHS to help them reduce their emissions.

This may include helping them switch to low-carbon energy sources, investing in energy efficiency measures, or working with suppliers to help them reduce their carbon emissions.

What Is the Supplier Framework?

The supplier framework is a system that is used by the NHS to assess and select suppliers. In order to qualify for an NHS contract, suppliers must be able to demonstrate their progress through progress reports and carbon emissions reporting.

The NHS will also consider other factors, such as the price of the goods or services, the quality of the products or services, and the environmental impact of the supplier.

When selecting a supplier, the NHS will also take into account the supplier's ability to help them meet their carbon reduction targets. This means that contractors who can help the NHS reduce their emissions will be at an advantage when competing for contracts.

In conclusion, NHS tenders can play a vital role in helping the organization reach its net zero targets. By working with contractors who can help them reduce their emissions, the NHS can make significant progress towards its goals.

How Exactly Can NHS Suppliers and Buyers Help Lower Emissions Then?

NHS tenders can help lower emissions in a few ways:

  1. By working with contractors who can help the NHS switch to low-carbon energy sources, such as renewable energy.
  2. By investing in energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting and insulation.
  3. By working with suppliers to help them reduce their carbon emissions. This may include helping them switch to low-carbon alternatives or investing in energy efficiency measures.
  4. By ensuring that all future reports on carbon emissions are accurate and up-to-date. This will allow the NHS to make informed decisions about where they can make further reductions.

The NHS is committed to reducing its carbon emissions, and working with NHS contracts and contractors who can help them meet their goals is a vital part of this process.

By selecting suppliers who can offer low-carbon solutions, the NHS can make significant progress towards its net-zero targets.

Net Zero Targets Expected

In conclusion, the NHS is not on track to reach its net zero targets. However, by working with NHS suppliers who can help them reduce their emissions, the NHS can make significant progress toward its goals.

By re-evaluating its commissioning process and selecting suppliers who can offer low-carbon solutions, the NHS can make progress towards meeting its net-zero targets.

Get in touch with us to discover what it takes to win contracts and framework agreements with government organisations and engage with contracts to win.


6 Benefits of Telehealth Services

6 Benefits of Telehealth Services

6 Benefits of Telehealth Services

6 Benefits of Telehealth Services

September 2022

The U.K. telehealth market is expected to reach more than 1.2 million people by 2027, which means many health systems see the benefits of telehealth. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, telehealth services have expanded worldwide, reaching people remotely with quality healthcare.

Telehealth has many benefits, including increasing patient flexibility, improving follow-ups, and decreasing overall costs. When you learn more about the benefits of telehealth, your comprehensive healthcare system will improve, and patient outcomes will be better.

Here’s more on the six benefits of telehealth.

1. Increased Patient Flexibility

Busy work and school schedules, sports practices, and social activities make it difficult to squeeze everything in on time. One of the significant benefits of telehealth is flexibility for patients and doctors. You’re much more likely to attend a telehealth appointment than an in-person visit.

For example, there’s no travel time between you and the doctor’s office (both coming and going). You can attend an appointment anywhere you have an internet connection, whether in your house, office, or soccer field.

Certain conditions are not ideal for telehealth – including chest pain, fever, or high blood pressure. However, certain conditions are such as a rash or a sore throat. Talking with your provider can help you determine if telehealth is right for you, depending on the circumstances.

Workers used almost 150 million sick days in the U.K. in 2021 – some for doctor visits. One of the benefits of telehealth is you won’t have to use a sick day to go to the doctor.

There’s also the flexibility of seeing different medical professionals, including physical therapists and mental health experts. Doctors can provide a wide range of flexible services

2. Improved Follow-ups

After an in-person visit, one of the significant telehealth benefits is a follow-up. Since follow-ups are short, doctors and patients can make the stop quickly.

Doctors in the healthcare system can discuss the next stages of care after surgery or invasive tests. They can also discuss patient outcomes and discuss follow-up wound care or medications. Doctors and providers can also spend more time with each patient.

Another one of the benefits of using telehealth is providers can talk to patients about any problems they might be having. Moreover, they can give emotional support to those in isolation or those suffering from a chronic condition alone.

3. Decrease Overall Costs

The patient benefits of telehealth and the provider benefits of using telehealth become clear by reducing overall costs. Healthcare companies can also reduce their costs, including charges to patients.

Doctors no longer have to have a ‘physical’ office, and patients can avoid driving to appointments. With a smaller office (even one in the home), overhead costs are lower.

Because fewer patients and personnel are clogging up hospitals, clinics, and offices, these facilities become more productive. Telehealth benefits include seeing patients needing in-person care from a doctor or medical professional.

With more visits via telehealth services, there’s a lesser chance a patient will develop a chronic condition or more severe illness. Over the long term, treatment costs the healthcare system and the doctor less.

Many studies suggest people who regularly use telehealth services see fewer emergency room visits and fewer visits to clinics. Because people are getting better patient outcomes over their time of care, there are not many emergencies when a problem flares up.

Automation could also see an increase as a telehealth benefit in the U.K.

4. Access for Rural Patients

A large patient benefit of telehealth is having access to large hospital systems across the U.K., regardless of where they live or their living situation.

You no longer have to worry about your location and access to health care.

Traveling for specialized care can be daunting for many patients because of their living or physical conditions. The benefits of telehealth services are a gamechanger and give people access to excellent health care even if they live far from a great healthcare system.

Doctors may also find it difficult to travel long distances to reach patients for clinics and educate them about the latest medical practices.

5. Reduces No-Shows

A benefit of telehealth services is that it reduces transportation problems for patients. They no longer have to cancel an appointment because they can’t get to an appointment or are stuck in traffic.

Many people who struggle with transportation issues are elderly, immobile, or those with disabilities. People can avoid worrying about whether the buses or trains run on time by sitting in the comfort of their homes and using telehealth’s patient benefits.

When people don’t show up for an appointment, there are added costs, and doctors can’t see as many patients during the day.

6. Reduced Anxiety

Many people fear going to the doctor in-person. So-called “white coat syndrome” can boost blood pressure and anxiety attacks and even raise the pulse rate. Some people even sweat profusely when they arrive at a doctor’s office.

Telehealth services reduce the in-person portion of your doctor’s visit and make the experience much more pleasant. There’s a more relaxed feel when the doctor and patient meet virtually.

Doctors’ offices (and hospitals) are also full of germs, including Covid-19, flu, and staph infections. When you leave an office, there could be a fear of getting one of these issues can create enough anxiety!

Telehealth visits keep the most at-risk patients home and away from getting anything serious. This is a great choice for the patient and health care provider for the immunocompromised.

Six Benefits of Telehealth

The virtual world is rapidly moving forward, and healthcare is no exception. There are six benefits of telehealth, including flexibility, better follow-ups, and decreased costs. In addition, there’s better access for rural patients, reduced no-shows, and less anxiety.

Contact us today about setting up telehealth services. We can help you set up the computer infrastructure needed to accomplish the necessary goals for telehealth. We can also educate you about the benefits of telehealth and how it can improve your overall quality of care.

Examining the Future of NHS Staffing

Examining the Future of NHS Staffing

Examining the Future of NHS Staffing

Examining the Future of NHS Staffing

September 2022

There’s no industry whose fate was as tightly interwoven with the COVID-19 pandemic as the healthcare sector. For years, healthcare workers put their lives on the line.

They struggled through long working days and worrying conditions to protect the population. This necessary preoccupation with the Coronavirus stunted innovation in the sector.

Yet, it prompted essential conversations about the importance of staff well-being and flexible working in the NHS. The Nursing and Midwifery Council announced in 2020 that the number of registrations boasted the most significant ever annual increase. Approximately 18,000 people joined the register amidst concerns about Brexit and a lack of NHS staffing.

These numbers are cause for optimism when we consider the future of NHS staffing. This article will look at what the future could hold for NHS nursing and midwifery.

Will the number of staff rapidly decline thanks to the aftermath of the pandemic? How will the NHS encourage aspiring healthcare professionals to follow this career path?

Let’s take a look…

Challenging NHS Staffing Shortages

Before we talk about the potential future, let’s talk about the present. Workforce shortages are currently one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS.

Right now, it is projected that the NHS will need an additional 314,000 full-time staff to meet demands in 2030.

This data assumes that patients will be spending a similar amount of time in hospitals as they do now. As a result, staffing demands will remain high, even as productivity increases.

Undoubtedly future governments will have to carefully consider NHS funding. At the same time, the UK struggles to attract home-grown nurses. More than 27,000 left the register in 2021.

Retirement is a crucial factor in this number. Many nurses put off their retirement for a year to support the NHS during the pandemic. Now, every industry faces worker shortages, with unemployment at a record low.

There were 1.29 million open positions in the first quarter of 2022. These shortages affect low-paying roles especially. NHS staff especially has cause to complain about long hours for insufficient pay.

The register is again on the rise, though the UK is lagging behind Europe and the Rest of the world. While numbers are now higher than ever, the NHS relies on internationally trained staff.

Although the contributions of these workers are immensely valuable, there’s cause for caution. Global events, or another pandemic, could easily disrupt these workers so that we may not take them for granted.

Focus on Flexibility

Flexible working conversations are happening across every industry. Remote work has been introduced as a genuine possibility for many workforce members. In the healthcare sector, remote working may not be possible.

Still, the NHS can support flexibility at scale through other means.
The sector is increasingly taking a more agile approach. Critical aspects of a more flexible system include:

Placing more trust in operational teams. This means giving them the freedom to delegate and make decisions for themselves.

Giving staff more options to work. Workers should be able to decide when and how they work. More flexibility facilitates a healthier work-life balance.

Supporting training and career development. Hereby, emphasis should be on flexible and transferable skills. Less staff will train to fulfill very specific roles.

Whole-workforce flexibility: In the future, the NHS may draw staff from a national bank of workers. This could provide qualified and skilled healthcare workers on a per-needs basis.

Embracing agility allows the NHS to work in new, innovative ways. As a result, it will become easier for teams to make decisions and achieve positive results. Flexibility also allows teams to embrace innovations and ideas.

This, in turn, may return the spark to the profession. Whereby skilled healthcare workers can improve care and service.

The Rise of ICSs

ICSs (integrated Care systems) are partnerships of organisations that deliver joined health care services. Local healthcare services will collaborate to meet the specific needs of local populations.

These systems will be established on a statutory basis starting from July 2022. Each will incorporate:

Integrated Care Partnerships (ICP): A statutory committee formed between NHS care boards and the upper-tier local authorities. The ICP will bring together partners concerned with improving healthcare and the local population’s well-being.

Integrated Care Board (ICB): An NHS organisation responsible for developing a health plan for the local population.

They will manage the NHS budget and arrange for the provision of health services. These will replace clinical commissioning groups. Place-based partnerships with local councils, communities, residents, voluntary organisations, and carers.

ICSs offers a vision of a more flexible NHS. It embraces collaboration between crucial health and social organisations to provide more relevant and personalised care to each area.

Improving Recruitment of Nurses and Midwives in the NHS

In response to severe NHS staffing shortages, all parts of the UK are enacting plans to increase the number of nurses and midwives. For this purpose, some funding support was provided to student nurses in 2020.

This has helped increase the number of nurses currently in training. According to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, the overall rise in nurse numbers is pleasing.

However, it’s important to remember that whilst the numbers of nursing staff may increase, the demand for health care workers is also steadily growing.

The NHS will struggle to fill its over 100,000 vacancies without looking to improve funding, staff well-being, and workplace flexibility.

If you want to learn more about NHS contracts and how to incorporate them into your business, get in touch with HCI today to access a free trial.

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.

What NHS privatisation could mean for the future of healthcare contractors?

What NHS privatisation could mean for the future of healthcare contractors?

July 2022

This year, the UK government signed the Health and Care Act 2022. The bill captured the attention of the public eye for its implications for a privatised health service.

Over 1 million people work under the NHS. The British Medical Association estimates that independent service providers carry out 5.2% of NHS-funded treatments.

They report that health care contractors became an integral part of NHS services during the pandemic. But, while there are benefits to outsourcing health care, there are also many dangers.

This article will discuss what NHS privatisation could mean for health care contractors.

Let’s dive in!

What is the new Health and Care Act 2022

In coordination with the King’s Trust, an independent government adviser, the act aims to create an “integrated care system” (ICS).

The current NHS system works under clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Wherein NHS services were managed and held accountable by a local governing body. Under the new bill, these will be replaced with smaller ICS groups.

The move formalises relationships with collaborative partners. Using the ICS model, local services will now need to join with a private service provider.

These lead providers will take the role of outsourcing NHS services where they see fit. The lead providers themselves will only answer to the NHS England commissioner.

Advantages and disadvantages of NHS privatisation

On the one hand, privately outsourcing NHS providers could increase the scale and efficiency of national services.

Contrary to popular belief, the NHS has always involved public and private provisions. In fact, the vast majority of GPs providing NHS services are independent contractors.

Under the 1946 NHS Act, local practices operate as their own business entities. The government supplements them based on how many NHS patients registered with them.

But, they are still private employees. This had benefits, such as:

  • Increased public services
  • Better employee benefits
  • Expanded patient coverage
  • Reduced waiting times

But, the increased privatisation of the NHS suggested by the new bill also has disadvantages. For starters, by cutting down local NHS oversight, there’s less transparency.

Private companies don’t have to meet the same accountability standards as public service contractors.

We also see:

  • Increasing expenses going towards private services and away from public funding
  • Less continuity for patients
  • More competition for healthcare contractors
  • Gives private providers the power to terminate services it deems unprofitable

For healthcare contractors, this can mean a loss of employment. Not to mention less financial stability and a potentially unregulated market where they compete to win NHS contracts.

Moreover, it removes many of the safeguards on which those contracts are founded. For instance, adequate pay, healthcare and contracted hours.

A lack of transparency not only disadvantages patients. But under NHS privatisation, workers have less protection against unfair employment practices.

What does the future hold for healthcare contractors under NHS privatisation?

The government has begun an NHS recovery plan backing the new Health and Care Act. This plan is designed to manage the treatment backlog that accumulated during the pandemic.

It also covers expanding workforce capacity. Not least by creating a more sustainable system for future staffing.

In a 2022 parliament debate, MP Matt Vickers stated:

“The Government have no democratic mandate to privatise the NHS, which is why they are doing no such thing. Access to NHS services will continue to be based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay.”

But, their plan suggests somewhat of a contradiction. On the one hand, it advocates using collaborative partnerships with private providers. Whilst also calling for reducing agency workers.

Independent contractors are a fundamental part of the plan. They can sit on lead provider boards which influence local strategy. Yet, they also are not permitted to directly influence local decision-making.

Some have argued that the new act will create a “pay for play” system. The NHS’s authority will become increasingly centralised as actual services are fragmented.

The arguments continue regarding whether the new bill will improve or deprive the healthcare sector.

But, one thing remains clear: Healthcare contractors need to prepare themselves for the new role they’ll play in the future of the NHS. Regardless of the level of privatisation.

How can healthcare contractors prepare for NHS privatisation?

Firstly, with the growth of private healthcare, NHS contracts will become increasingly competitive. Between 2019 and 2020, the NHS spent £9.7 billion on services delivered by the private sector.

This reflects a 7.2% budget devoted to private care providers. Some include social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations. Yet, the vast majority went to independent service providers.

Healthcare contractors working for these organisations are more likely to succeed in bids for NHS contracts. Not least because they often have more resources to compete.

Winning NHS contract bids is a matter of early engagement. As well as being able to meet NHS stipulations of the tender contract.

Getting ahead

For the best possible chance at success, healthcare contractors need to know the dynamics of the healthcare market (including the potential for NHS privatisation).

They must be able to proactively seek out market and contract opportunities. Whilst simultaneously knowing how to reach contract requirements.

To do this, independent businesses need to be aware of the latest data in the UK procurement market. This includes market analysis, contact pipelines and leads.

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.