Hoe lever ik aan de Britse National Health Service (NHS)?

19/10/2012 in Nieuws

​A guest post by Sue Wilde of Medilink UK. Medilink UK is a national health technology business support organisation, with a strong track record in increasing the viability of manufacturers, service providers, designers, OEMs and suppliers of medical technology.


The National Health Service (NHS) spends nearly £20bn each year on goods, services and works not including drugs, but finding and navigating your way through the maze of options and channels into the NHS is lengthy, confusing and frustrating, and one could be forgiven for thinking that some routes to a sale are closely guarded secrets!

This attractive and lucrative market has seen many private procurement organisations offer their services to NHS purchasers. This, coupled with the independence offered to hospital Trusts through Foundation status, leads to a breakdown of regional lines in some instances and can make centralised purchasing difficult to mandate.

The procurement landscape in the UK is notoriously fluid with multiple points of entry and many levels of bureaucracy and red tape. This means industry’s “cost to serve” is constantly increasing at a time when the NHS is looking to make savings from its supply base

Dutch companies wishing to supply to the NHS are faced with a variety of routes: tendering for Contracts through OJEU, NHS collaborative procurement hubs, private companies (e.g. NHS Supply Chain), government agencies (e.g. Government Procurement Service), and Trusts operating independently; each using their own systems for dealing with suppliers.

To support our extensive network Medilink UK has produced the NHS Procurement Guide, and created the Tenders and Sales Leads service. Medilink UK is also involved in two important programs which we feel will improve the procurement landscape in particular for SME’s  – the NHS Supply Chain Supplier Board, and the National Procurement Council NHS SME Sub Group.

Here’s some information extracted from the NHS Procurement Guide designed to give you a ‘taster’ of the support we offer to our members in accessing the NHS market.

EU Public procurement law regulates the purchasing by public sector bodies and certain utility sector bodies of contracts for goods, works or services. The law is designed to open up the EU’s public procurement market to competition, to prevent “buy national” policies and to promote the free movement of goods and services.

Legislation, which came into force on 31 January 2006, now covers public procurement as follows:

  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland: the Public Contracts Regulations 2006
  • In Scotland: the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006

Contracts caught by the Regulations (nominally those in excess of £113k although other restrictions apply and are fully detailed in the Guide) must be advertised by way of an OJEU notice, i.e. a standard form notice placed in the EU’s Official Journal.

There are several ways of accessing these Tender notices, both ‘free-to-view’ and ‘paid for’. The free to view sites tend to be less sophisticated in their filtering mechanisms, and can result in many inappropriate tender notifications in your inbox. The commercial services are much more efficient, and all tend to operate in a similar fashion to Medilink UK’s Tenders and Sales Leads service

For contracts below this threshold, most authorities operate their own local contracts procedures which are usually available on their individual websites. By way of an example, see this link to the Heart of England NHS Trust’s eTendering portal.

‘Below threshold’ Contracts can be advertised through myriad different sources, and in the Medilink UK NHS Procurement Guide, we explain the different agencies involved, and where to find these lower value contract opportunities

The Guide explains in simple terms the role of each organisation; lists which hospital Trusts are affiliated to which organisation (where appropriate) and provides web-links to the registration and purchasing opportunities section for each. (These links are monitored and updated quarterly.)

For Dutch companies new to this market, the NHS can seem impenetrable. Especially for those companies with innovative new technologies that have no evidence base in the UK market. Medilink UK also offers market-access support such as introductions to the R&D departments at large NHS Trusts; individual clinicians renowned as key opinion leaders in their field;  access to specialist regulatory affairs advice for our market; even help in sourcing UK-based distributors or agents for your products.

Medilink UK supports the Economic Department at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to provide the best possible market advice and assistance to Dutch companies seeking to develop their business in the UK. Please contact the Embassy to find out more about the UK healthcare sector or MedilinkUK.com’s online services, including the NHS Procurement Guide. Medilink UK is also happy to offer to the Embassy’s clients a free trial of both the Tenders and Sales Leads and the Funding and Finance Service.

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