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.

NHS care revolutionised with launch of ICS

NHS care revolutionised with launch of ICS

July 2022

Friday 1 July sees Integrated Care Systems take over from Clinical Commissioning Groups – one of the most significant changes in NHS procurement for many years.

The change will see 42 new ICSs established across England who will provide collaborative healthcare within their designated area. The new ICS model sees health and care services joined up across regions, with local authorities working together with healthcare providers, GP teams, hospitals, and other partners to improve services and deliver better outcomes for people who live and work in their area.

The journey

The journey to deliver joined up health care service has been several years in the making, with the NHS setting out its vision for the future in 2014. Partners began working to bring Integrated Care Systems to fruition in 2016, with the first models emerging in 2018 and NHS England working closely with them to pioneer best practice.

The Purpose

The purpose of ICSs is to bring partner organisations together to:

  • improve outcomes in population health and healthcare
  • tackle inequalities in outcomes, experience and access
  • enhance productivity and value for money
  • help the NHS support broader social and economic development.

New initiatives

Boosting health checks in the community to find people with health problems before they become seriously unwell is a key goal of the shift to integrated care systems.

New initiatives being implemented through the systems include a GP practice in Stockport which is going into betting shops to deliver blood pressure checks, identifying and preventing hypertension issues before people end up in hospital.

In Coventry and North Warwickshire, a local sports club offers diabetes and weight management support, taking referrals from GP teams but also reaching out to people in the local area they think might be most at-risk. People can receive tailored one to one diet and lifestyle support, and access to the club’s gym facilities.

And thanks to these local authority partnerships in Bedfordshire, patients who frequently call 999 but do not need emergency help are given alternative “lifesaving” support in their community, ensuring peoples’ needs are met as well as freeing up staff time to deal with emergency calls.

Saving lives and reducing costs

The changes are set to save an estimated £14M each year by reducing the number of chief executives working in the NHS by almost 170.

New systems are already proving to be an effective tool in tackling the covid backlogs, with eight systems reducing two-year waiters to single figures ahead of the end of July target. Nationally, there are 70% fewer two-year waiters than in January.


Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “Integrated care systems have the power to truly transform the way that we care for people up and down the country – not only will the NHS provide care when someone is unwell or has an accident but alongside our local government partners, we must also now play an increasing key role in managing peoples’ health so that we can catch more killer conditions earlier and save lives.

“Local areas are already doing this by going out into communities to spot signs and symptoms earlier in places such as sports clubs and betting shops as well as ensuring people can access community support rather than using 999 or going to A&E.

“Through these schemes, we are already making a massive difference to peoples’ lives. The NHS will now build on this success and innovation and deliver care for patients that is fit for the future as well as saving taxpayers’ millions of pounds each year”.


What does this mean for you and how HCI can help

The HCI research team have been busy updating our extensive NHS contacts database with details of the 42 new ICS organisations and the staff who will be working within them.

Our research is meticulous – after all, this is much more than a public sector re-branding exercise. New organisations, new roles, new responsibilities and new routes to engagement – it’s a major change that any business supplying to the NHS needs to be across.

We’ll be publishing transition updates on the HCI website and will provide further insights into the changes and what they mean for the NHS supply chain.

Interested in finding out more about what HCI can do for you?

Book a demonstration today and explore the world of opportunity in regard to healthcare tendering.

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.

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.

Medical equipment

How to tender in the healthcare supply market

Medical equipment

How to Tender in the Healthcare Supply Market

February 2022

The Healthcare Sector, particularly in the UK, is awash with some of the most lucrative contract opportunities available.

Did you know that the NHS, which accounts for 80 per cent of total healthcare spend, is associated with £27 billion worth of annual spend?

The beauty of fulfilling public sector contracts, especially if we consider hospital contracts and healthcare supply, is that people will always require healthcare, and in order for the government to provide this, they will always need goods and services.

Looking ahead, the government has pledged to increase funding for the NHS while, also overhauling health and social care, all of which only spells good news for those working within the hospital and healthcare supply chain, with the number of opportunities set to grow steadily.

Between January and October 2021, the number of contract awards signed in the UK healthcare sector sat at more than 6,000. Awardees ranged from medical equipment supply businesses providing diagnostic technology to organisations delivering training programmes and energy efficiency consultancy – highlighting just how dynamic the range of opportunities within the healthcare supply market is.

However, for businesses considering putting themselves out there to win a public sector contract in healthcare, one of the biggest questions they need answered is: how do I win a healthcare supply contract? So, in this blog, we’re going to explore how to do it.

How to get a contract with a hospital or a healthcare provider

There are a number of things you need to be aware of when bidding for healthcare supply contracts and you should attempt to follow these if you aim to be successful.

Analyse tender structure

Are you confident that you know everything that the tender entails? Double check the ways in which the tender is structured and if different elements of the opportunity are grouped together. If this is the case, then be sure before completing your tender application that you’re able to fulfil what is required. Always read the tender documents and make sure you answer the questions they ask (not the ones you hope they will ask) before going on to offer extras or show the quality of your goods or services.

Patient care and protection through policies and procedures

The Department of Health and Social Care will do their utmost to ensure patient safety so they will need to be assured that your services aren’t going to impact the quality of care which they provide. This will mean a close check of your internal policies and procedures – are they up to date and are you carrying out regular training? If you aren’t at present, this may be something you wish to consider before submitting a tender application to become a healthcare or hospital contractor.

Prove your worth

If a tender response is going to succeed, it will need to be backed up by evidence to suggest that your organisation is capable of filling the position. Call upon previous customers for testimonials and build case studies using your previous work.


You need to stay ahead of your competition if you’re going to win healthcare and hospital contracts but, thanks to HCI, the hard part can be all but removed, through the help of AI & machine learning, industry expertise, the opportunity to engage early, and many other additional, exclusive features.

While you’re here, why not take a look at our blog detailing everything you need to know about the UK and Global healthcare market?

Request a demo today and start your journey to becoming the next healthcare supply contractor.