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 integrated care boards (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 Spend Comparison Service has been refreshed in May 2023, with additional data and tools to further support NHS commercial teams to deliver the best value for the taxpayer. The refreshed service includes a new ‘Product Benchmarking Tool’ that identifies cashable savings that could be generated when switching from specific products to alternative sources of supply.
The Atamis e-commerce system is also used by many trusts and ICBs. The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) funded the rollout of Atamis across health organisations, in partnership with the DHSC. Using a single e-commerce system 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.
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.
If you are a supplier interested in learning more about the latest development, opportunities and initiatives related to the NHS England net zero and sustainable procurement programme, please register your interest via our online form.
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).
Our Evergreen sustainable supplier assessment, launched in June 2023, is an online tool enabling suppliers to engage with the NHS on their sustainability journey and understand how to align with the NHS net zero and sustainability ambitions; including those set out in the NHS net zero supplier roadmap.
The NHS Central Commercial Function Sustainable Procurement team run regular webinars that cover the Evergreen Assessment in more detail and provide responses to questions received in advance of sessions.
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.
Supplier carbon reduction plan and Net Zero commitment requirements
NHS England has published guidance to support suppliers to prepare their Carbon Reduction Plans (CRPs) and Net Zero Commitments (NZC).
The guidance details how the NHS will proportionately extend Carbon Reduction Plan requirements from 1 April 2024. The current CRP requirement will be extended to a wider set of procurements and a Net Zero Commitment will be required for lower value procurements.
This guidance builds upon existing NHS Carbon Reduction Plan requirements set out in the NHS net zero supplier roadmap.
If you’re a supplier to the NHS and want to understand more about what this means for you, further information is available in the guidance.
NHS England is running regular webinars which will cover:
- the requirements and what suppliers need to prepare,
- how the requirements will be requested within the procurement process, and
- support available to suppliers to meet and exceed requirements.
Register for a webinar on the NHS England Events page.
NHS England will continue to offer a CRP checking service until further notice. Suppliers can access this free service by contacting the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Supplier Carbon Reduction Plans
From April 2023, for all contracts above £5 million per annum, the NHS will require suppliers to publish a Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP) for their UK Scope 1 and 2 emissions and a subset of scope 3 emissions as a minimum (aligning with Procurement Policy Notice 06/21). A CRP identifies a supplier’s current carbon footprint and their plan to achieve net zero emissions. The NHS will require its suppliers to have a publicly available CRP on their website and to share their CRP information as part of the procurement process. NHS England has published detailed guidance to support suppliers to prepare their CRPs.
If you’re a supplier to the NHS and want to understand more about what this means for you, further information is available in the guidance, and the NHS Central Commercial Function Sustainable Procurement team is running regular webinars which will cover: how your CRP will be requested within the procurement process and what support is available to help you create your CRP. Register your interest on the NHS England Events page.
NHS England will continue to offer free a CRP checking service until further notice. Suppliers can access this service by contacting the following email address: email@example.com.
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.