Update on Atamis roll-out across the NHS

Agenda item: 8 (Public session)
Report by: Nils van de Winkel, Head of Procurement Data and Performance
Paper type: For information
5 October 2023

Organisation objective

  • NHS Long Term Plan

Executive summary

This paper provides an update on the roll-out across the NHS of Atamis, a single eCommercial system for procurement. This system allows onboarded organisations to manage their planned procurement activity, tender activity, contracts, suppliers and related procurement value and savings in one location. Atamis is centrally contracted by DHSC, centrally funded by the Crown Commercial Service for 3 years and supplemented with targeted funding by participating authorities. NHS England and DHSC centrally fund a small onboarding team to drive adoption of the system by NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and develop targeted functionality, such as the Evergreen Sustainable Supplier Assessment.

Great success has been achieved in getting a critical mass of organisations onboarded to Atamis. As of 22 August 2023, 72% (in scope health organisations) have onboarded to Atamis, meaning NHS England has met the overall programme target (of 70% onboarded by 31 March 2024) early. This includes the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England, wider Arm’s Length Bodies, NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts and ICBs. At the same date, focussing only on NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and ICBs, 73% have onboarded to at least one of the Atamis modules (as of 18 July 2023 Organisational Data Service data cut). The platform currently holds a pipeline worth £42bn and active contracts with a combined value of £121bn with 11,000 suppliers.

Atamis enables the NHS to consolidate our procurement landscape and use commercial data more effectively. This makes it easier for procurement and commercial teams to make informed decisions that ensure the best value for money for the taxpayer. In addition to enabling the NHS to identify and deliver savings, Atamis builds build public trust through greater transparency, and makes it easier for our suppliers to work with the NHS.

Whilst a critical mass has been achieved in onboarding organisations, with significant savings delivered, more work is required to assure high data completion and quality to drive further analytics to inform the commercial process. Longer term central funding will need to be established, beyond the initial 3-year term, to ensure continuity of service and the ability to use this commercial dataset in the future.

Action required

The Board is asked to note the information provided in the report.


1. Many NHS organisations historically used their own procurement systems to buy goods and services. This meant that most procurement teams were previously working in local systems with different data standards which were unable to integrate. This led to there being little shared insight into planned procurement activity, tender activity, or about contracts and suppliers, making it harder for teams to make effective commercial decisions.

2. DHSC led on the procurement of a single cloud-based procurement system, Atamis. The DHSC contract with Atamis stated that any health or NHS organisation could onboard to the system, and it was initially adopted by a range of national organisations. NHS England, as one of the first adopters, has embedded Atamis gradually since January 2021 with great success. Atamis is a modular system, where each module supports a specific stage in the commercial lifecycle. It is generally adopted in a phased approach.

3. Trailblazer NHS Trusts tested and adopted Atamis in the early days of roll-out. Their success and advocacy for the system led to the establishment of a small central support team in NHS England to develop specific functionality and drive a phased onboarding to the commercial pipeline module.

4. The onboarding of NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and ICBs is led by NHS England in close collaboration with DHSC, who lead on the onboarding of the tender and contract management modules. NHS London Procurement Partnership (LPP) provided an essential accelerator in the initial scaling of the adoption in the London region.

5. Funding for licences was one of the main barriers to initial adoption. In response to this, NHS England co-funded licences for the London region, where NHS LPP led on regional implementation to scale initial trailblazer success. DHSC obtained further central funding through Crown Commercial Services for licences for the whole health system for three years from July 2022.

6. Adoption of a single eCommercial system such as Atamis directly supports Cabinet Office spend controls, transparency requirements under the new Procurement Bill and the NHS Long Term Plan. It reduces variation across the health system in buying systems, and improves providers’ financial and operational performance by providing a unified view of commercial data. It also supports the principles of the Government shared services strategy to move to common IT systems that standardise processes and services and therefore reduce costs through economies of scale.

7. The NHS England Central Commercial Function (CCF) had established a target at the 7 July 2022 NHS England Public Board to have all known commercial pipeline data from NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and ICBs available in the single eCommercial system. The overarching Atamis onboarding programme as led by DHSC has tiered targets to have targeted organisations across the health system onboarded at milestones of 50% at 29/03/2023, 70% at 31/03/2024, and 90% at 31/03/2025.

8. One year on from the central funding, this national onboarding programme has helped NHS procurement teams to realise a significant range of benefits and drive savings.

Benefits and savings realised


  • Identification of cashable commercial savings opportunities through aggregation of spend by onboarded Integrated Care Systems.
  • Identification and delivery of non-cashable efficiency savings due to a reduction and deduplication of efforts aligned with the roll out plan. For example, it is easier to adopt new legislation such as those proposed in the Procurement Bill.
  • Enablement of electronic contract signature processes, reducing burdensome tasks for procurement teams
  • Easier for suppliers, especially SMEs, to do business with the NHS following on-boarding.
  • Enablement of Evergreen Sustainable Supplier Assessment and collection of associated data once, on behalf of the NHS, reducing duplication and costs, providing .
  • Development of standard NHS Procurement Value and Savings Methodology, underpinned with standardised functionality to plan, forecast, and report on achieved value and savings on project and contract level.
  • Reduced requirements for and administration cost in reporting, such as requirements from the Cabinet Office Commercial Spend Controls.
  • Single centrally maintained supplier watch list to support fraud prevention.
  • Single contract with a company credit checking organisation to enable buyers to credit check suppliers on demand.

10. The current critical mass of onboarded organisations means that the overall programme target of 70% onboarded by 31 March 2024 has been met early. This gives national visibility into transparency related data for over 38k planned procurement projects with a combined value over £42bn, and over 67k active contracts with a combined total active contract value over £121bn.

11. Over 44k suppliers have registered to Atamis with over 53k registered supplier users. By procuring our goods and services through a single eCommercial system and conducting the supplier Evergreen Sustainable Supplier Assessment once, we are making it easier for suppliers, including SME’s, to identify opportunities and do business with the NHS.

12. Whilst great success has been achieved in getting a critical mass of organisations and suppliers onboarded to Atamis, there is further work to be done to help NHS England achieve greater adoption. NHS England has identified the following issues which have delayed the full value of this national dataset being realised.

Issues relating to the onboarding


  • For those that have onboarded, there are a range of organisations that are lacking capacity and/ or commitment to fully onboard to all the modules and embed the system into day-to-day operational activity. This is limiting the national analysis that is feasible on aspects such as process efficiency.
  • For those that have onboarded, there are varying degrees of data completion and maintenance. This is leading to a variable national commercial dataset with a proportion of data out of date which can inaccurately skew analysis.
  • For those that have not yet onboarded, long-term local contracts generally have been put in place before the instatement of this programme. Lack of central funding commitment beyond the initial 3-year term has brought some uncertainty to NHS organisations about whether to onboard whilst the programme progresses.
  • Limited ability to establish the national service run team due to organisational change, leading to missed opportunities for new custom functionality to be built and delays in the usage at scale of the central commercial dataset.
  • Opportunities to build in additional national supplier assessments, e.g. developing a single supplier IT/ Cyber Security Assessment like Evergreen Framework Assessment, are not pursued in favour of separate systems

Forward plan and mitigations against noted issues

14. The NHS England CCF aims to develop and adopt technology that provides the NHS with insight into procurement value and savings opportunities and outcomes. It does this through its Technology and Data service offer.

15. The adoption of Atamis is driven through this service offer and forms part of a wider strategic framework for NHS Commercial. A key statement of intent is around digital and transparency: “utilising data as a strategic asset, allowing information to flow to where it can be used to deliver most value and build public trust through greater transparency”.

16. We will continue to drive adoption and development of a single, national eCommercial platform and build on the current success to establish the foundations of a national data warehouse for all commercial intelligence and insight.

17. The integration of Atamis public transparency data into the NHS Spend Comparison Service will improve our analytical capabilities to enable strategic and operational commercial insight. The NHS Spend Comparison Service is a free to use service that collects, normalises and visualises NHS procurement data. It supports NHS organisations with spend analytics and product price benchmarking to undertake category management, identify cost savings opportunities and manage supplier risk.

18. Accurate insight from these nationally normalised commercial datasets is only possible when the data is of high quality and complete.

19. The CCF aims to strengthen and expand the existing mandatory request for commercial data to improve the data completion, invest in data transfer automations to reduce manual intervention and potential data quality issues arising and invest in analytical capacity and capabilities.

20. Continued collaboration with DHSC and communication is undertaken to ICS Procurement Leads of the onboarding status per Integrated Care System.

21. Consolidating and using our commercial data more effectively will enable the NHS to build further on public trust through greater transparency and to identify and deliver more value for the taxpayer.

Public Board paper (BM/23/34(Pu)