NHS SBS helps equip new Nightingale hospitals and source emergency goods for Gibraltar

As NHS procurement professionals work round-the-clock to help healthcare providers deal with increased demand due to COVID-19, experts from NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) are supporting the emergency response both at home and abroad.

With the first NHS Nightingale hospitals now up and running in Birmingham, London and Manchester – and others set to follow around the UK in the coming days and weeks – the speed at which the field hospitals were built required a huge co-ordinated effort across a variety of sectors and professions.

Purchasing the products and equipment needed for what – at full capacity – will be one of the world’s largest hospitals, would usually take over 18 months. Instead, the new NHS Nightingale Hospital London needed to be ready to admit its first patients in just two short weeks.

As part of the transactional procurement service it provides to NHS England, the team at NHS SBS has rapidly processed millions of pounds of orders – whilst also moving to home-working – helping those behind the new facility achieve the seemingly impossible.

In Manchester, NHS SBS was heavily involved in the planning, sourcing and equipping of NHS Nightingale Hospital North West, which is now open to patients at the G-MEX exhibition centre.

As a partner to the procurement department from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust – and working alongside NHS Supply Chain – the experienced NHS SBS capital team worked on site to rapidly source all of the equipment needed to open up the 648 bed hospital.

Drawing on its extensive market knowledge and supplier relationships, the NHS SBS procurement team helped to ensure the new Manchester hospital got what it needed ready for opening.

This included over one hundred volumetric infusion pumps, oxygen cylinders, controlled drugs cabinets, and other difficult to source items due to the current COVID-19 market conditions.

And it is not just the UK where NHS SBS procurement expertise has been needed. To assist the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) in its response to COVID-19, extra medical supplies are soon to be shipped to the British Overseas Territory from the MOD Marchwood Military Port in Southampton.

In preparation for this, procurement experts from NHS SBS have been assisting the UK government to source a range of essential healthcare products, such as BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) hoods and oxygen concentrators, which can be used to treat COVID-19 patients in Gibraltar.

More generally, for NHS organisations that use the NHS SBS procurement service, a new system has been implemented to prioritise emergency COVID-19 related items – activity that is over and above our normal processing of high volume clinical goods. Since the beginning of March, this has seen more than 430 orders processed for millions of pounds worth of additional goods.

Phil Davies, Director of Procurement at NHS SBS, said:

“The speed of response needed across the NHS procurement sector to support the frontline and get the new NHS Nightingale hospitals up and running quickly has been quite incredible. We’ve been pleased to be able to put our experience to good use in supporting the national effort.

“Our procurement team has extensive knowledge of the NHS supplier market through our framework portfolio, and relationships that have been established over many years – both of which are invaluable for a time-critical emergency response like this.

“In helping to set up the new Nightingale hospitals in a such a short space of time, we’ve also been able to draw on what we’ve learned from our involvement in planning the new specialist Clatterbridge cancer centre, which is due to open in Liverpool later this year.”