Westminster Health Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future for procurement in the NHS - resilience and future health emergency preparedness, value for money and transparency, sustainability, and key lessons from COVID-19


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will examine the future of procurement in the NHS, and what can be learned from the experience of commissioning and procurement during the pandemic - as well as the impact of procurement relating to the NHS currently being the subject of intensified political, policy and media scrutiny.

This seminar will be a timely opportunity to discuss:

  • government procurement in response to COVID-19, and its impact - including the NAO’s investigation into how it was conducted, as well as implications for the NHS, public opinion, and policy
  • the Government’s Green Paper on Transforming public procurement - aiming to shape the future practices of public procurement, and aligned with NHS for net-zero including the supply chain by 2045

The agenda is structured to bring out latest thinking on:

  • the delivery of NHS procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic, what has been learned, and priorities for the future
  • measures that can be taken to improve resilience and preparedness for future health emergencies
  • tackling disruption in the supply chain and the development of UK production of PPE
  • meeting wider healthcare aims around sustainability, demand, and digital care
  • developing and implementing frameworks that achieve improved consistency, standards and transparency

The agenda:

  • Assessing the delivery of NHS procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • What has been learned, and priorities for the future of NHS procurement
    • Issues presented by procurement challenges through the pandemic
    • Improving transparency, competition and public trust
    • Regulatory flexibility, and ensuring clinical effectiveness and safety
    • Taking forward domestic production and supply resilience
    • Future options for trade and procurement
  • Ensuring preparedness for future health emergencies
  • Commissioning, procurement and the impact of proposed healthcare reforms
  • Procurement within the wider healthcare policy agenda - net-zero NHS targets, consistency in the use of digital healthcare technology, and utilising data
  • Next steps for procurement in the NHS

Key areas for discussion:

The experience of the pandemic:

  • procurement:
    • the use of urgent response powers - including the removal of competition and using direct awards, as well as assessing the effectiveness of risk mitigation in these cases
    • keeping up with developments - meeting PPE requirements as understanding of the virus developed and guidance was being updated
    • quality assurance - looking at the extent to which this was followed and maintained
    • government transparency - including concerns over ministerial involvement in contract management
    • effectiveness of controls and processes - evaluating the methods established to assess offers of support, and the use of a high priority system for offers deemed particularly credible or urgent
    • balancing protocol and urgency - as some suppliers started work before processes to confirm the contract had completed
    • meeting demand and value for money - assessing the extent to which this has been achieved in the circumstances
    • emergency procurement processes - considering:
      • the way in which the approach to emergency procurement was developed at the same time as responding to the pandemic, and how effective this approach was
      • what has been learned, and what can be improved for scaling up emergency procurement in the future 
  • commissioning:
    • evaluating changes - looking at alterations to the way healthcare services were procured, with NHS England intervening and taking powers to support service provision across the NHS
    • regional priorities - managing the commissioning of services to meet local need through the pandemic, as well as priorities for pandemic recovery and overcoming backlogs
    • policy - considering the impact of reforms in the Health and Social Care white paper, which takes forward integrated care and place-based working

Key lessons and priorities for the future:

  • transparency - methods that can be applied to improve transparency in procurement processes, such as setting time limits for contracts to be published and for information to be made publicly available
  • regulatory flexibility - ensuring safety and clinical effectiveness through the emergency procurement response, and supporting suppliers with compliance, as well as the need for adaptability
  • removal of competition and the use of direct awards - options for change if this approach is used again
  • domestic supply, production and infrastructure - what can be learned, looking at:
    • the domestic response that resulted from international pressures, and the dependence on supply from abroad
    • the infrastructure and relationships developed from domestic production
    • what is needed for manufacturing capability in the UK going forward, as well as innovation and skills development
  • distribution - meeting operational need and the speed of demand
  • overcoming challenges - addressing the challenges experienced on the frontline from PPE shortages and key lessons to take forward
  • cultural considerations - the development of culturally appropriate and accessible PPE, as a new Hijab is made available, as well as clear face masks to improve communication

Options for trade and supply going forward:

  • key issues - procurement in the wake of the pandemic and the international disruption to supply chains, demand and production
  • sourcing - evaluating the extent to which dependency on international supplies will be maintained after the pandemic, as well as the impact of Brexit
  • ethical and legal issues - including addressing concerns around modern slavery in the supply chain
  • future resilience - making sure that the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic are built into resilience going forward for future pandemics, as well as priorities for:
    • updating stockpiling guidance and requirements
    • collaboration with experts from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group
    • working with the new UK Health Security Agency to ensure the level of preparation is sufficient and in line with latest surveillance and developments in health protection

Procurement within the wider healthcare policy agenda:

  • aligning with the net-zero NHS ambitions:
    • the role of procurement in the net-zero agenda - creating efficient supply chains, and driving the strategic and cultural shifts required in procurement
    • innovation and developing greener methods - including safe, sustainable PPE and the options for making this re-useable
    • how net-zero goals can best be embedded into future procurement systems and manufacturing
  • digital procurement:
    • consistency in the digitalisation of services and tackling variation
    • responding to accelerated demand
  • the use of data:
    • opportunities presented in enabling efficient procurement - how the pandemic has developed this and priorities for taking it forward
    • evaluating pandemic preparedness and monitoring outcomes
    • improvements at a system level to drive improvements and identify need

A scan of relevant developments:

  • Transforming Public Procurement - the government’s green paper on making improvements to transparency, regulation, value for money and innovation following the UK’s exit from the EU
  • NAO reports:
    • Investigation into government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic:
      • looking into the Government response to procurement, the powers given to bodies to procure goods during the pandemic and how risks were managed
      • with a Government statement published in response to the report defending the transparency of procedures
    • The supply of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic - assessing:
      • the initial level of preparedness, how this was responded to and what the consequences and challenges were for the workforce following delays and distribution
      • how PPE has been used and the budget put in place 
  • Personal protective equipment strategy: stabilise and build resilience - the government strategy outlining the response and approach taken to procurement challenges for PPE, including:
    • the supply chain and domestic production
    • how it is preparing for future outbreaks of the virus
    • key considerations for transitioning to an improved procurement system following the pandemic 
  • New procurement framework for online consultations and video consultations - from the NHS, which aims to include all services in one place, improving assurance, consistency, and standards
  • Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service - from NHS England, setting out the ambition for the Health Service and its wider supply chain to be net-zero by 2045, including:
    • how to approach emissions reduction in the supply chain
    • ways that purchasing can influence this
    • a move away from single-use and developing low-carbon options 
  • Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all - the new health and care white paper, with:
    • planned reforms to address bureaucracy in arranging healthcare services in order to support integration and collaboration
    • competition processes encouraged with NHS discretion if they add value
  • Covid contracts still unpublished despite Boris Johnson's claim - the BBC reporting on the High Court ruling that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care had acted unlawfully for not publishing procurement contracts within set out timeframes, and further contracts not having been published following the ruling
  • the Greensill Inquiry - and concerns over the lobbying of senior health service officials

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from the Crown Commercial Service; the Department for International Trade; the Department of Health and Social Care; the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency; the National Audit Office and The Scottish Government. Also due to attend are representatives from the Beckton Dickinson; Biomerieux UK; BIVDA; Boehringer Ingelheim; Cepheid UK; GlaxoSmithKline; Gloucestershire County Council; Launch Diagnostics; LumiraDx; Molnlycke; NHS London Procurement Partnership; NHS National Services Scotland; Osborne Clarke; Owen Mumford; QIAGEN; Sysmex UK; Tosoh Bioscience; Virgin Care and Werfen.

A press pass has been reserved by a representative from Health Service Journal.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conferenc

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Health Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates