Blog: NHS Supply Chain supporting orthopaedics on the front line

By: Steve Vandyken, Category Tower Director, NHS Supply Chain: Orthopaedics, Trauma and Spine, and Ophthalmology   

Our national procurement and clinical teams work hand in hand with NHS Trust colleagues including National Orthopaedic Alliance (NOA) member organisations, to provide orthopaedic contracting solutions for all orthopaedic specialities across the NHS. In March 2020 few could have predicted the impact and longevity that the Covid-19 pandemic would have on orthopaedic services.

For our Category Tower Service Provider (CTSP) team at NHS Supply Chain, the immediate focus in the early stages and first few weeks of the pandemic was to offer help and understand how we could support our colleagues in other CTSPs who were focused on sourcing PPE for frontline staff as well as ICU-related items such as ventilators and beds to enable the setup of the Nightingale Hospitals nationally.

Our second priority was to understand the impact of the pandemic on frontline colleagues across procurement and orthopaedic departments, including what activity outside emergency trauma was being undertaken and were there any challenges to ordering or receiving products from suppliers.

By liaising closely with all our key suppliers, we were able to understand what arrangements were in place to support NHS Trusts throughout this period, in terms of customer service, product support and what, if any, supply chain disruptions were occurring as a consequence of the pandemic. This enabled us to ensure to the best of our abilities there were products available under existing arrangements and that no NHS Trust was commercially disadvantaged as a result of the significant downturn in elective activity.

Our team has taken away several key learnings which will change our focus within the orthopaedics category going forward:

  • Business continuity and supply chain resilience – we have sought improved visibility of our key supplier global supply chains as well as dependencies on third party manufacturers, distributors and insourced or outsourced supply chain strategic partners to enable us to provide the NHS with greater assurance on order fulfilment.
  • Supplier relationship management – orthopaedic suppliers have without doubt stepped up to the plate during this crisis to support the NHS in a period of extreme pressure and uncertainty as, collectively, the NHS seeks to deal with the elective backlog and plans what the future ‘business as usual’ may look like. We will continue to listen to supplier ideas as well as work closely with them to support innovation or new solutions in Trust or Integrated Care System environments across the orthopaedic landscape.
  • Customer value – a renewed focus on value outside the traditional contracting route to try and understand what additional ‘value based’ activity in orthopaedics could be promoted nationally alongside suppliers and Trusts undertaking research or pilot projects as the NHS moves forward on elective recovery and patient pathway transformation over the next few years.

We always put surgeons and clinicians at the heart of any contract decision making process, with clear methodologies that enable informed decisions to be made. We will continue to provide assurance of quality, continuity of supply and additional service value to support that initial decision on an ongoing basis.

 Steve vandyken

Steve is Category Tower Director for NHS Supply Chain: Orthopaedics, Trauma and Spine, and Ophthalmology, provided by Collaborative Procurement Partnership LLP, a wholly owned NHS organisation.

He joined the NHS in 1999 following previous procurement and supply chain roles in the private sector and the Royal Air Force. Steve joined CPP in July 2019, after ten years as Director of Procurement at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to this he worked in several national roles as well as a procurement shared service organisation and a collaborative procurement hub. A qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, he also has a master’s degree in procurement.

Steve has ongoing input into the NOA procurement working group which aims to share information, pool expertise and maintain a discourse with central procurement bodies to ensure best value for NOA members organisations.