Capita has implemented a new procurement service at Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (CLCH), helping it to improve health care for 2 million people, saving it millions of pounds, and helping healthcare workers and administrators to be more effective.

More than 2 million people in London and Hertfordshire depend on CLCH to help them to stay well with healthcare in their homes and at local clinics, avoiding unnecessary visits to or lengthy stays in hospital. CLCH supports patients at every life stage, from visiting newborn babies at home to providing palliative care for people nearing the end of their lives.

For CLCH to help local people, it must use its budget effectively and manage its spending carefully. But in 2016, it was in a challenging situation: it had to deliver significant savings and implement a comprehensive new procurement strategy based on NHS standards but with very limited procurement resources.

It also had a lack of visibility of and insight into its expenditure and contracts. This led to limited cost control and budget compliance.

So, in 2017, CLCH approached Capita for help in creating a procurement function that supported its core value of providing quality care to patients in the community.

In the initial phase of the project, we successfully helped CLCH to tackle its immediate staffing issues, by putting a team of procurement category experts on-site to develop a CIP savings plan and carry out a procurement maturity review with our spend analytics tools.

Our review identified more than £25m of potential savings that could be delivered over the next five years. We also recommended a series of improvements and created a transformation roadmap tailored to CLCH’s specific needs, to address its challenges and create a best-in-class procurement function.

CLCH then asked us to implement the transformation programme. Our brief was to deliver a new target operating model and establish a fully managed procurement service to achieve CLCH’s commercial objectives for the next five years.

Our first step was to facilitate a series of solution design workshops with clinical and operational stakeholders to co-design a new procurement operating model that met the Trust’s quality and financial objectives.

Our team delivered an eight-month transformation programme that enhanced strategy, policy, governance, contract management, business intelligence, training and service quality. We now operate a new procurement model as a managed service using a flexible resourcing approach: a core team provide ongoing support while other resources, including subject matter experts, are on hand to supplement them according to their day-to-day needs.

Procurement at CLCH has undergone a remarkable change since we implemented our managed service in 2017. Stakeholders have indicated their approval with a 19% increase in customer satisfaction, making procurement the highest performing back-office service at the Trust for two years in a row.

Patients and Trust clinicians are benefiting from our work on several fronts. Frontline medical staff have access to a reliable and predictable supply of consumables during the pandemic, including life-saving personal protective equipment to enable them to continue community-based work that’s crucial to keeping as many people out of hospital as possible. We also led the procurement and implementation of a video conferencing solution, and sourced equipment to enable Trust employees to work effectively from home during the pandemic.

The management team have greater visibility of contracts and types of spend, and they can now track costs at a granular level and the procurement function’s performance through a balanced scorecard of metrics.

Patients are benefiting from a newly-awarded nutritional support contract procured by our team, which means that there is 50% more nursing support available to those who need to be tube-fed. We have also rationalised medicines management providers from three suppliers to one, achieving significant savings while making more pharmacy support available and delivering medicines to patients in need more quickly.

The programme has had a significant financial impact. More than £20m of the targeted £25m in contract life savings has been delivered to date, equating to a reduction of more than £1.9m in recurring costs per year. Importantly, the arrangement includes the transfer of significant commercial risk to Capita: all our fees are contingent on the Trust making savings from the projects we deliver.

And the benefits have not been limited to CLCH. Throughout the project, we’ve represented CLCH at the NHS’s North West London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), attending fortnightly workshops with heads of procurement from all the Trusts in the area, leading and delivering projects across multiple Trusts. In a period when the STP was struggling to get off the ground, we delivered its first successful multi-Trust savings project. This complex project to contract a single supplier of continence products across the STP involved patient testing and evaluation, plus clinical testing to ensure a high-quality outcome and savings for all the Trusts involved.

We have now led three collaborative STP-wide projects, delivering £1.4m in multi-Trust savings and supporting the standardisation of clinical products and services across the region to provide greater consistency for patients as they use healthcare services across different NHS Trusts.

We’ve met or exceeded all our contractual deliverables over the past three years, including savings guarantees, resulting in the creation of a best-in-class procurement service that delivers benefits not just for CLCH but also for the North West London STP.

What’s next for the project? To ensure that the savings delivered continue to be realised throughout the life of the contract, we’ve put in place a robust benefits realisation and contract management process that sees the forecast savings demonstrated every quarter. This way, we expect CLCH to exceed more than £25m in real savings across the five years of our contract. We’re also rolling out commercial training across the Trust, ensuring that the programme leaves a legacy of skills for all employees.

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