NHS Shared Business Services eyes target of £1 billion savings by 2020

NHS business support services provider eyes new goal after reaching £224m savings target more than 12 months earlier than planned

One of the leading providers of business support services to the NHS is aiming to deliver £1 billion of savings through greater efficiency in non-frontline NHS services by 2020, after reaching its initial cost-saving goal more than 12 months earlier than planned.

We know that by implementing best practice within NHS procurement we can help NHS trusts make efficiency savings and make vast improvements in the quality of data that can then be used to make better-informed decisions

NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) was established in 2005 with a commitment to delivering £224m of cost and efficiency savings to the NHS within 10 years - a target it has now reached.

The organisation has typically achieved 20-40% savings for NHS clients through greater operational efficiencies and improved service quality within finance and accounting, employment services, procurement and primary care services. Building on this, NHS SBS intends helping support the NHS to make a further £775m of savings, which can be freed up for frontline care during the next seven years.

NHS SBS is a unique 50/50 joint venture between the Department of Health and Steria. This model has ensured that rather than just being a static outsourcing agreement delivering a fixed set of services, NHS SBS has continually worked in partnership with its NHS clients to look for further ways to improve the efficiency and quality of service delivery. NHS SBS also shares part of its surplus with its clients, which has resulted in £6m being shared out in the last four years on top of the cost savings achieved.

John Neilson, NHS SBS chief executive, said: “Part of our strategy has been to establish dedicated teams of people that work closely with each of our clients to find ongoing solutions, while still achieving the cost savings that result from the economies of scale associated with a shared services environment.”

Now, with an eye to the future, NHS SBS believes even greater efficiencies can be achieved by taking a more strategic approach, encouraging the take-up of best practice procedures and providing NHS board directors with greater business intelligence that enables them to manage demand and resources far more effectively.

Just by improving procurement practices the NHS would be able to track spend far more effectively, not least by being able to check that the value of supplier invoices matches the purchase order

Neilson said: “We know that, for example, by implementing best practice within NHS procurement we can help NHS trusts make efficiency savings and make vast improvements in the quality of data that can then be used by finance directors to make better-informed decisions.

“For instance, if you take a look at the retail sector, retailers achieve almost 100% purchase order compliance, whereas within the NHS this can be as low as 10%. Just by improving procurement practices the NHS would be able to track spend far more effectively, not least by being able to check that the value of supplier invoices matches the purchase order.

“We are continually looking at innovative ways to improve the services we provide for the NHS. By engaging at a strategic level with our clients we can support them to work more collaboratively, to benefit from economies of scale while adding greater value in terms of the intelligence we provide in all areas of their organisation.”

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