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House of Commons Hansard
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11 October 2016
Volume 615
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7. What steps his Department is taking to improve NHS procurement. [906495]

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I agree with my hon. Friend that this is an important area. In his report earlier this year, Lord Carter identified potential annual savings of £700 million from reducing the variation in procurement performance between providers. We have announced a first tranche of 12 standardised products for all NHS providers to use; this will boost procurement volumes and bring about economies of scale, securing lower prices. These initial products, including commodity items such as gloves and needles, cover £100 million of trust spending. We expect this to result in savings of up to 25%.

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Innovative private sector suppliers have successfully partnered with the NHS since its inception, and it is quite right to say that for that relationship to be sustainable, those suppliers must make a profit. However, does the Minister agree that rogue companies that exploit the NHS’s lack of commercial expertise could be named and shamed, because they are making a lot of money at taxpayers’ expense?

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We believe that the right approach to securing procurement savings is to take advantage of the immense amount of data available across the NHS. That is why we have set up the purchasing price index benchmarking tool. Data on more than £8 billion of expenditure, covering over 30 million separate procurement transactions, has been collated and will be analysed. We will use that information judiciously to save the taxpayer money. We think that that is the right way to start, rather than naming and shaming.

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I urge the Minister, when thinking about national procurement and national commissioning, to look at the national strategies that can underpin them—for example, at why we need to renew the national stroke strategy. Some 100,000 people a year suffer a stroke, and nearly 1 million people in this country have had a stroke. They care very much about rehabilitation and other services.

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The Minister’s challenge is to relate that very important matter to the equally important issue that happens to be the subject of the question: procurement.

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I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for drawing the hon. Gentleman’s attention to the fact that the topic is procurement. The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the fact that we have looked at an acute heart treatment strategy. We are creating centres of excellence across the country to ensure that if people suffer from an acute heart incident or a stroke, they are treated by the specialists who will give them the best prospects for recovery.