Centralisation of procurement and supply chain management in the English NHS: some governance and compliance challenges
This paper provides a critical analysis of the new operating model for NHS procurement that is being implemented in 2018/2019 (the NOM). The government expects NOM to generate significant savings through centralised procurement and strategic supply chain management, which would then be dedicated to frontline NHS healthcare services through newly devised ‘sustainability and transformation plans’ (STPs). The paper stresses that the NOM rests on a complex network of contracts resulting in a layer of contractualised governance that obscures its architecture and decision-making processes. It maps the changes that the NOM introduces in the operation and governance of the NHS supply chain and identifies key challenges in ensuring that the NOM is subjected to adequate oversight and accountability mechanisms, in particular from the perspective of public procurement and competition law. The paper advocates for the location of all NOM relationships on the NHS Business Services Authority, especially to facilitate judicial review.