VIP Event: The care sector takeaways

Our recent VIP event — ‘What’s keeping procurement leaders up at night’ — opened up some key shared challenges that industry experts have been experiencing over the past 12 months.

As part of our panel, we welcomed Sunil Bhatt, head of procurement at Four Seasons Healthcare to take part in the open forum discussion where we talked around the key issues facing the supply chain.

With a focus specifically on the care home sector, here we cover off the key takeaway points from the hour-long event.


Managing product supply and quality is the number one priority

Without a doubt, the number one priority for care home procurement teams over the past year has been the sourcing of PPE and hygiene products. With health and safety a key consideration, all attention was rightly focused on protecting both residents and staff.

When Covid-19 hit, many suppliers and users — including the UK Government — were caught out; confronted with rocketing prices and unable to source the essential hygiene products required.

Although not unique to the care home sector, the importance of maintaining a reliable and trustworthy source via supply partners has become more prevalent than ever before. Sunil discussed the impact this had on his organisation, with the highest number of new suppliers coming into the business to combat the shortages. Although this helped to alleviate the supply issue, it also resulted in a huge amount of additional resource being required to vet and validate both the provider and products.

While streamlining your firm’s supply chain during a pandemic might not seem like the most obvious solution, by connecting with a long-term procurement partner, robust contingency plans can be put into place to secure continuity and quality to protect against future events.


Budgets are back on the agenda

With the attention rightly on procuring vital core PPE and hygiene products during 2020, care home budgets were hit particularly hard.
The combined effect of having to source un-forecasted additional equipment, along with the exponential price increases seen on essential items left a gaping hole in the balance sheets of many across the sector.
Sunil’s Four Seasons Healthcare organisation reported a huge surge in the cost of new capital items that needed to be invested in, such as sanitiser stations, on top of the PPE requirements. Masks which were previously in the region of 5-6p pre-Covid-19, were suddenly costing the business £1. In effect — for many care homes — the budgets had to be effectively disregarded.


Embracing technology is a must

The almost overnight shift to homeworking also had an unprecedented impact on many organisations’ bottom line. With reports that an estimated 40% of employees are using non-approved suppliers, with an estimated additional cost of over £27 per order in additional admin, keeping control of the spiralling cost of remote workers remains a major concern.

his is one key area where technology is helping to deliver tangible bottom-line benefits. Business management and digital procurement systems — such as our SmartPad 2 tool — allow procurement managers to take back control of their budgets.

Online ordering facilities, with customisable permissions levels and access to pre-set products, allow for the flexibility of remote working, without the risk of unknown costs. Using real-time data to compare market prices, and produce reports at the touch of a button also play a vital supporting role in enabling businesses to save time, and ultimately, money.

During our webinar, Sunil also touched on the fact that the healthcare sector remains quite antiquated. Much of the supply chain still use paper invoices, and the resulting administrative cost is significant.

The biggest opportunities for driving efficiencies in the sector undoubtedly lie in the adoption of technology and working with partners to integrate purchasing and report systems to help future-proof businesses.


People and relationships are the key to seeing us through

Looking back on the 2020, the overriding point is that we will all reflect on the year as a huge challenge. But, as Sunil pointed out, ultimately, we overcame them and it’s important to recognise the efforts and achievements made by our teams.

When talking around procurement, many still view the process as a simple price beating function, whereas a successful partnership allows for both supplier and client to work in unison to overcome the problems faced.

Building collaborative relationships with our clients has always been part of our DNA at OfficeTeam. We strive to go beyond the transactional connection and really get to know our clients, with our dedicated account management team. By doing this, we can help to deliver real value to your organisation with the right products, business tools, and strategic support that your business needs.

To find out more about OfficeTeam and the range of products and services we offer, please click here and a member of our team will be in touch.

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