Public sector procurement policies: finding cost savings through research
Our Centre for Research in Strategic Purchasing and Supply (CRiSPS), is a world-leading centre for research, education and consultancy in supply strategy - working with highly complex, inter-organisation networks and systems, and influencing policy.
Through its 15-year research partnership with the NHS, CRiSPS has developed a deep knowledge, and enabled research, education and consultancy to be spread over the NHS procurement network. This has delivered positive outcomes to patients, NHS organisations and taxpayers alike. As a result of the partnership, a more strategic, integrated approach was adopted to influence the £18 billion spent by the NHS on goods and services. Here are a couple of examples of the impact.
Benefiting hearing impaired patients and taxpayers
In the UK, hearing impairment affects 8.7 million individuals. From the 1930s onwards, patients were prescribed highly visible, analogue aids which amplified all sound, rather than selected sound. The wearer had little control over the device, other than total volume, and 25 per cent of analogue users don’t wear their aids for this reason.
Digital hearing aid settings can be customised to suit the user, and adjusted according to background conditions. By the 1980s, an analogue hearing aid would cost the NHS £222 per patient, whereas private digital aids cost around £1750 each. The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) worked closely with CRiSPS and the main stakeholders involved in hearing impairment services. The resulting collaborative approach, allowed the NHS to purchase and supply over 260,000 digital hearing aids a year, at the much reduced cost of £60 per unit. Better hearing aids became more widely available, and the NHS saved £45.5 million a year.
Learning through international research
The International Research Study of Public Procurement has completed four phases of research and now involves 17 nations. As a direct result of learning from this study, the Welsh Assembly changed its public procurement practice to enable Wales-based SME businesses to supply the public sector more easily, thereby generating more jobs for the local economy. The Welsh Assembly Business Procurement Task Force website now states: “It is estimated that some 49% of the Welsh public sector’s procurement expenditure is on by Wales-based businesses."