Both at home and abroad, the National Health Service is widely regarded as one of the UK’s defining institutions. Indeed, to many it is revered as a ‘national treasure’.
Which is fitting because it is also a potential ‘treasure trove’ of opportunity to small businesses.
For the NHS is a £125 billion per year industry in its own right. It is one of the world’s largest employers - with more than 1.5 million staff. Consequently, it is defined by huge resources, huge needs and huge potential to local, regional and national suppliers.
For the past few years, FSB has been working closely with the NHS to help open up their supply chains. We want to make them more accessible to small firms and to deliver benefits to all involved. Those benefits being new business opportunities for smaller suppliers and new cost/efficiency savings for the NHS.
To highlight the potential on offer, we have been working with NHS Procurement to host a series of regional meetings, where we have invited FSB members and non-members, to attend and hear about the opportunities on offer and how best to access them.
The most recent of these took place on May 21, at The Innovation Centre on Longbridge Technology Park – the regenerated site of the former Rover Car works, in Birmingham.
The state of the art facility was the perfect location to attract attendees from across the west Midlands – being at the heart of the region’s road and rail network and easily accessible from the FSB’s three sub regional areas, Staffordshire & West Midlands, Warwickshire & Coventry and Shropshire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
This was in fact the fourth event in the programme and was a great success. We had more than 50 attendees on the day and FSB Procurement Chair Tim Colman did a great job of keeping proceedings on track.
Equally impressive was Shannon Gaskell, NHS Supplier Relationship Manager. After a brief presentation, explaining the new NHS teams and supply chain procurement model, she fielded, with Tim, a large number and broad range of related questions.
At the end of the formal proceedings, around a dozen or so delegates formed a very orderly queue and waited to ask Shannon detailed and specific questions about the opportunities that might be open to them.
Everyone who attended the event found it extremely useful, with phrases such as ‘brilliant’ and ‘worth every penny of my membership fee for this event alone’ being bandied about by many.
Tim Coleman summed up the event saying: “It was a great event, with great content and a great turnout. Most importantly of all, our members and other small business owners who attended found it both informative and potentially lucrative. I hope that those who want to supply the NHS in the future are now equipped with the knowledge and tools to put them in the best possible position to do just that”.