Doing business in the UK healthcare sector requires suppliers to understand the UK healthcare procurement process thoroughly. Finding procurement solutions for healthcare sector organisations is essential to operate within this competitive industry.

Given the many complexities involved in healthcare contracts necessary during procurement, we’ve compiled a guide to the process, regulations, challenges, and opportunities present in the healthcare procurement process. Continue reading to find out how healthcare professionals can successfully work with the UK’s National Health Service.

What is the Procurement Process?

During the healthcare procurement process with the UK’s National Health Service (often called the NHS), the NHS purchases large quantities of healthcare products and services to provide adequate patient care that patients need to recover.

Ultimately, the goal of the procurement system is for healthcare leaders to source and purchase the right equipment, supplies, and services to function in healthcare. This process is fundamental because of growing concerns over health during the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues from increased demand.

However, procurement can provide unique issues for suppliers without the proper knowledge to navigate NHS healthcare tenders, bids, and contracts. These challenges make it essential to know how to appeal to the NHS procurement system.

What are Procurement Regulations?

Before discussing the process of healthcare bids and contracts, you should understand specific regulations found during the procurement process. The 2022 Health and Care Act outlines new and improved procurement regulations that the NHS follows during procurement:

  1. Regulations require provisions specifying the steps necessary following a competitive healthcare tendering process.
  2. Regulations relating to the procurement of healthcare services must make provisions to ensure transparency, fairness, and compliance and to manage any conflicts of interest.
  3. The NHS is required to publish guidance regarding compliance with procurement regulations.
  4. A qualified authority must observe the guidance published. Relevant authorities include a combined authority, an integrated care board, a local authority in England, NHS England, an NHS foundation trust, or an NHS trust under section 25.
  5. Before the guidance is published, NHS England must receive approval from the Secretary of State.

Who are the Key Players in the Procurement Process?

Healthcare procurement requires excellent strategy and involves numerous parties affected by the decision process. Below is an essential overview of the key players during the procurement process that you’ll encounter as you take this next step:

  1. The regulator manages the effectiveness and integrity of healthcare procurement processes. This role is crucial to ensure the safety of healthcare products before making a final decision that could cause adverse health impacts.
  2. The payer is responsible for funding the overall health system during procurement.
  3. The provider provides critical healthcare services to patients using products and services from the procurement process.
  4. The supplier provides all the products, equipment, and services providers use to treat patients. Suppliers aim to receive healthcare contracts with the NHS during the procurement process.
  5. The patient receives high-quality treatment when healthcare products are correctly procured and safe to use.

Challenges in Healthcare Procurement

An effective healthcare procurement strategy doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Healthcare tenders can cause numerous complications, such as the following common issues suppliers face during procurement processes.

Demanding Environment

NHS healthcare procurement can take a toll on suppliers, given the numerous regulations and protocols necessary to comply with procurement guidelines. While healthcare procurement is in high demand, suppliers must meet the strategic demands of the World Class Commissioning (WCC) program.

Suppliers must meet various demands and operate under significant financial pressure to succeed during procurement. Fulfilling all contractual obligations is challenging, even for seasoned professionals.

Adhering to the Supplier Framework

Procurement is a complicated process that requires advanced knowledge and a careful eye for detail. Additionally, suppliers must adhere to the supplier framework, a system the NHS uses to assess and select suppliers for procurement.

Suppliers must show their development through detailed progress and carbon emissions reporting to qualify for healthcare contracts with the NHS. The NHS considers numerous factors when deciding and will account for your offerings’ price, quality, and environmental impact.

Understanding and Mitigating Risks

Healthcare suppliers must consider the risks associated with emerging markets to avoid violating the UK’s standards for avoiding modern slavery and exploitation. This violation is grounds for exclusion from public sector procurement in the UK.

To lower these risks, healthcare suppliers must be cautious and start off by tendering for healthcare opportunities offered by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), charity, or international body rather than entities in emerging markets.

Opportunities in Healthcare Procurement

The right procurement solutions for healthcare sector suppliers can help you understand the numerous opportunities available in the procurement process. As healthcare contracts become increasingly important, suppliers can take advantage of some of the following procurement opportunities:

  1. Medical equipment is vital to how healthcare facilities operate. Suppliers can offer equipment to the NHS, including diagnostic tools, surgical instruments, and other equipment essential to how healthcare facilities function.
  2. Medical consumables are a massive opportunity for suppliers to make healthcare bids that succeed. Supplies and consumables include crucial medical assets like gloves, syringes, gowns, and disposable products used in healthcare.
  3. IT solutions are increasingly attractive to healthcare institutions and are an excellent supplier opportunity. These solutions help healthcare organisations manage operations and processes related to patient care, such as electronic medical records and billing statements.
  4. Maintenance services are another opportunity for suppliers to the NHS and integral to the modern healthcare environment. Maintenance service suppliers can address and repair issues with medical equipment to ensure that everything stays in working condition.

How HCI Can Help You With Healthcare Tenders

Securing healthcare contracts with the NHS is possible when you have a robust marketing toolkit to help you master procurement processes. Health Contracts International can help suppliers create a successful framework to navigate UK healthcare procurement like a seasoned professional. Following the best practices to work with the NHS and other healthcare providers is easy when you use the solutions from HCI.

HCI understands the challenges that suppliers face during healthcare procurement and works to help suppliers overcome these struggles and make an impact on the UK healthcare market. Learn how to navigate the healthcare sector through HCI’s comprehensive services today by requesting a demo.