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Procurement problems: what lies beneath?

Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, says Jane Bates.

Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, says Jane Bates

Perhaps because we have to budget so carefully ourselves, nurses are mindful not to squander NHS resources. Yet the health services poor stewardship of taxpayers money has been hot news on and off for years, and we can all bear witness to that.

Years ago, a friend came up against a brick wall when trying to buy a mundane piece of equipment. She could buy it from a reputable store for a fraction of the cost of the same item from an approved supplier but no one in the procurement department would hear of it. They had to use the established companies or forget it, never mind the cost.

Another nurse I know needed some chairs for her department. If she bypassed the hospital purchase system and ordered them online, she

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Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, says Jane Bates 

Perhaps because we have to budget so carefully ourselves, nurses are mindful not to squander NHS resources. Yet the health service’s poor stewardship of taxpayers’ money has been hot news on and off for years, and we can all bear witness to that.

Years ago, a friend came up against a brick wall when trying to buy a mundane piece of equipment. She could buy it from a reputable store for a fraction of the cost of the same item from an approved supplier but no one in the procurement department would hear of it. They had to use the established companies or forget it, never mind the cost. 

Another nurse I know needed some chairs for her department. If she bypassed the hospital purchase system and ordered them online, she could get them for £200 less per unit. But no, she was crushed for even suggesting it. 

It is the same with travel expenses. If you have a rail discount card, or can book in advance, it is usually cheaper. But there is something about the way NHS finance departments are organised that does not allow this. 

It would be interesting to know what lies behind this. Is it the usual management intransigence, that nurses should know their place and not meddle? Common or garden stupidity? 

Probably both. And what can we do about it? Absolutely nothing. 


About the author

Jane BatesJane Bates is an opthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

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