NHS SBS wins inaugural contract to provide ICS-wide corporate services

NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has announced a new long-term partnership with Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS) – the first ever NHS contract for the delivery of consolidated corporate services across an ICS footprint.

The landmark agreement will see NHS SBS provide an integrated finance and procurement service to all five NHS trusts within Norfolk and Waveney ICS for the next decade.

The culmination of a productive period of joint working, the national pathfinder partnership sets the standard for the future of finance and procurement in the NHS.

Facilitated by NHS SBS, the collaboration between NHS trusts across Norfolk and Waveney ICS highlights how individual organisations can join forces to achieve system-wide benefits for their local population – a key part of the government’s healthcare reform agenda.

As part of the initiative, NHS SBS worked alongside the ICS to develop a unique Insight Diagnostic Solution, which benchmarks existing finance and procurement processes across individual organisations against national requirements and industry best practice.

This detailed analysis, which can be easily replicated at ICSs up and down the country, identifies where improvements are required and how investments can be best targeted, which ultimately supports better and more informed decision-making across multiple organisations.

At Norfolk and Waveney ICS, the evaluation highlighted the potential for system-wide service improvements and identified significant savings opportunities of £7.3m (26%) on operational expenditure over the next ten years, including cash releasing savings of almost £4m.

The subsequent P2P Purchase to Pay (P2P) service, newly launched at Norfolk and Waveney ICS this month, has established a best practice and value-for-money ICS blueprint for standardising finance and procurement practice across the NHS after many previous attempts nationwide.

Stephen Beeson, Deputy Director of Finance at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and ICS Programme Lead, said:

“NHS SBS has a long and successful track-record of delivering shared services and managing central platforms for a large proportion of the NHS – so this was obviously an important factor for us.

“The efficiencies and cost savings that come from this partnership will undoubtedly benefit the ICS, but equally important is moving to a futureproofed shared service that, from a technology perspective, provides additional benefits – so we don’t move to a new platform and stand still.

“Having a standardised system means we can also get on the front foot when it comes to reporting as an ICS – looking at things horizontally as well as vertically and enabling new levels of automation for things like national reporting.”

The first-of-its-kind contract between NHS SBS and Norfolk and Waveney ICS follows the publication of national guidance by NHSEI earlier this year, which directs ICSs to ‘develop a plan for corporate services transformation and, where appropriate, consolidation’ and ‘seek to maximise collaborative opportunities to achieve benefits and economies of scale’.

The NHS revenue finance and contracting guidance 2022/23 says ICSs should carry out a diagnostic exercise to establish the scale of opportunity of implementing enhanced procurement practices, and ensure interoperability, standardisation and optimised automation across financial services.

Erika Bannerman, Managing Director at NHS SBS, said:

“The size and scale of our proven shared service operation means we are uniquely placed to support the government’s healthcare reforms and invest in the future success of ICSs.

“Our collaboration with the forward-thinking Norfolk and Waveney ICS highlights the opportunity that exists to instil system-wide best practice right across the country.

“High-quality, consistent and value-for-money corporate services, which can also be tailored for a specific ICS, ensure enhanced reporting via real time data across organisational boundaries, and deliver substantial efficiency and productivity savings – time and money that can be redirected to frontline care.”