The Task

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHS BT) provides a range of services across England relating to the collection and supply of blood and related products, and the provision of services to facilitate tissue and organ transplant. NHS BT have developed a ten-year sustainability strategy, ‘Sustainability Strategy 2015 – 2025’, called ‘Changing to Improve Sustainability’. An integral part of the strategy is the development of a ‘sustainable supply chain’ which should ‘meet Level 5 (Lead) of the Flexible Framework’. The ‘Groundwork Phase’ required an audit of the organisation’s procurement function against Level 5 of the Framework, prior to the ‘Development Phase’, addressing major impacts identified via the audit.

Given the wide variety of goods and services procured across NHS BT, ensuring a sustainable supply chain which delivers best value to the service is vitally important.

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The Action

With the publication of the new international Standard for sustainable procurement in April 2017 (ISO 20400), Action Sustainability put forward a proposal to perform an assessment of NHS BT’s procurement and supply chain operation, against the new Standard. This would bring NHS BT up to date on sustainable procurement, utilising the latest guidance and best practice.

To the best of our knowledge, NHS BT was the first health sector organisation in the world to assess its procurement function against the Standard.

The assessment covered a thorough review of the NHS BT procurement policies and procedures and an evaluation of the organisation’s sustainability documentation, together with additional research, to establish an initial picture and understanding of sustainable procurement. This was supplemented and refined by engaging directly with staff through a visit to NHS BT in Bristol and reviewing practical implementation of the organisation’s policies. The team completed a detailed analysis of sustainable procurement at a practical level across NHS BT, including scoring knowledge and implementation.

The Outcome

Action Sustainability successfully produced a comprehensive report for NHS BT, setting out commendable current achievements, and a series of prioritised recommendations for the organisation to adopt to enhance the good work completed to date. Overall, 75% of our recommendations were accepted, and corresponding time frames were developed into a detailed implementation plan, covering issues including policies, procedures, reorganisation of the procurement function towards sustainability, and process integration.