Central Commercial Function (CCF)

The Central Commercial Function (CCF) is a team of commercial experts within the NHS England Commercial Directorate that delivers 7 services for the wider NHS commercial community.

These services are at different stages of maturity with some being new or in development. The NHS England Board paper outlines what the CCF will deliver and how, along with the associated benefits of our new strategy. The CCF supports NHS Long Term Plan priorities, delivers on the Carter Review of NHS efficiency recommendations and meets the ambition of Delivering a net zero NHS to decarbonise the NHS supply chain by 2045.

1. Commercial best practice

The CCF helps trusts and ICBs to leverage NHS buying power through category expertise in areas such as digital, estates and facilities and transport.

We have developed guidance on which framework agreements to use to simplify buying digital and IT goods and services. Our digital and technology procurement framework strategy recommendations make the procurement process easier for both buyers and vendors to navigate, removing duplication and reducing costs.

2. People and community

We need to attract, develop and retain the best commercial talent in the NHS through career pathways. We are offering Commercial ADC (assessment and development centre) accreditation as a development opportunity for senior commercial leaders; supporting the Graduate scheme set up by the NHS Skills Development Network and the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) and the Edward Jenner Apprenticeship scheme with the NHS Leadership Academy.

3. Governance, assurance and process

We support commercial teams with applying best practice, delivering central government procurement policies and adhering to legislation.

The NHS Provider Selection Regime (PSR) will be a new set of rules for arranging healthcare services and the Procurement Bill will reform the UK’s public procurement regime.

The NHS terms and conditions for the procurement of goods and non-clinical services support NHS bodies when preparing tender documents, drawing together contracts for the purchase of goods and services. For clinical services, see the NHS Standard Contract.

NHS Commercial Standards, known as the Commercial Continuous Improvement Assessment Framework (CCIAF) enable benchmarking against similar organisations to help drive continuous improvement in commercial practices. These NHS standards were updated in May 2020 to align with Government Commercial Function (GCF) standards for all public procurement.

4. Technology and data

Improving how we use data will increase efficiencies and build resilience. Trusts and ICBs already use data tools, such as the Spend Comparison Service to switch to better value products and the Model Hospital for benchmarking costs against similar providers.

The Atamis e-commerce system is used by many trusts and ICBs. The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has funded the rollout of Atamis across health organisations, in partnership with the DHSC, as it provides better visibility and business intelligence across the NHS commercial landscape and will help unlock significant benefits and savings.

Atamis will also make it easier for suppliers, especially small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), to do business with the NHS, as they will only need to interact with one system. Our sustainability requirements will be embedded in Atamis from 2023, so that all NHS sustainability and procurement teams can access supplier emissions data.

5. Commercial strategies

The CCF is developing a commercial strategy across the NHS with clear procurement pathways and routes to market and will help facilitate Integrated Care System (ICSs) procurement strategy development.

6. Sustainability and innovation

Our supply chain is critical to delivering a net zero NHS as nearly two thirds of NHS emissions sit within our supply chain. Procurement is already playing a critical role in ensuring the NHS can reach net zero by 2045.

Supplier carbon reduction

The NHS is responsible for almost 5% of the UK’s overall emissions. 62% of these emissions sit within our supply chain including those from medicines, medical devices, freight transport, food and catering, business services, construction and manufacturing.

In September 2021, one year on from the publication of the Greener NHS Delivering a net zero NHS report, we published a net zero supplier roadmap to set out the steps suppliers need to take between now and 2030. This approach builds on UK Government procurement policy (PPN 06/20 and PPN 06/21).

From 2023 our Evergreen Sustainable Supplier Assessment will enable suppliers to benchmark their progress against the net zero supplier roadmap and share their net zero and sustainability progress with all NHS buyers using one portal.

Net zero and social value

Net zero and social value weighting in procurement will help to reduce health inequalities, boost COVID-19 recovery, reduce carbon emissions, improve wellbeing and create opportunities to improve health outcomes for our communities.

In June 2020, the government published its new model PPN 06/20 to deliver social value through commercial activities. Since 1st April 2022, all NHS organisations are required to include a minimum of 10% weighting for net zero and social value in tenders. We published guidance on applying net zero and social value in the procurement of NHS goods and services to help procurement teams unlock health outcomes and increase value for taxpayers.

Reducing demand

There are many opportunities to generate savings, reduce emissions and improve health outcomes through shifting local demand and schemes such as return and re-use of equipment such as walking aids, or collection of medical devices such as catheters and surgical instruments for remanufacture. NHS teams can access our ‘How-to’ guides for reducing demand on the CCF Hub on Future NHS.

Eliminating modern slavery from supply chains

NHS England fully supports the Government’s objectives to eradicate Modern Slavery, including in our supply chains and ensuring they are free from ethical and labour standards abuses. NHS England publishes an annual modern slavery and human trafficking statement which provides more information on our activities.

Innovation

The NHS Innovation Service is a new online service for healthcare innovators, co-ordinated by the  NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC). It aims to provide the right support for individuals and companies at all stages of their innovation journey to get their innovations adopted in the NHS and provide innovative solutions to NHS challenges.

7. Sourcing and management

A resilient supply chain is vital in ensuring that our frontline teams have the resources they need.  The CCF manages our strategically important supplier relationships, so that we can rapidly respond to supply chain challenges.