HealthTrust Europe announces Gary Welch as incoming CEO

HealthTrust Europe, a trusted procurement organisation and supply chain partner for healthcare providers, has announced the appointment of Gary Welch as its new Chief Executive Officer. Gary will officially join the business in February 2024.

Gary has nearly 20 years of experience in health and social care and will be joining HealthTrust Europe from Oxford University Foundation Trust, where he served as Director of Procurement and Supply Chain.

Starting his career in engineering and production management, Gary then joined the NHS in 2005 as part of the Supply Chain Excellence Programme. Here, he worked closely on one of the first collaborative procurement hubs in the NHS, before holding a number of senior procurement roles across the health service. Gary also led the procurement programme at The Shelford Group, a collaboration between ten of the largest teaching and research NHS hospital trusts in England.

Located in Birmingham, HealthTrust Europe has an enviable track record of delivering leading procurement solutions addressing all aspects of public sector delivery and is a Trusted Procurement Partner to over 1,000 organisations. Working with over 2,500 suppliers, the company empowers providers to achieve operational efficiencies and cost savings, access innovative technologies, and strengthen the performance of their services.

Commenting on his appointment, Gary Welch said:

“I am thrilled to be joining the HealthTrust Europe team at a time when healthcare is at the forefront of the challenges across the public and private sectors. The opportunity for procurement to deliver innovation and value to our customers has never been greater.

I am excited to get started and maximise our potential in the procurement sector, ensuring that HealthTrust Europe continues to offer invaluable support to our customers, helping them to deliver excellent patient care while driving efficiency and innovation in both healthcare and non-healthcare sectors.

“HealthTrust Europe boasts an exceptional team of committed and talented colleagues and I look forward to leading the business from strength to strength.”

HealthTrust Europe’s Executive Leadership Team said:

“We are delighted to announce Gary Welch as our incoming Chief Executive Officer. Gary brings an outstanding track record of success and his leadership will be invaluable for securing the continued success of HealthTrust Europe.

“We look forward to welcoming Gary as we continue our mission to help providers enhance and improve the services they provide to the communities they serve.”

Digitally Connecting Integrated Care Systems

Integrated Care Systems (‘ICSs’) will be granted statutory footing in England on 1st July 2022, with 42 ICSs being established across England. ICSs are partnerships of organisations that come together to plan and deliver joined up health and care services that improve the lives of people who live and work in their area. Partner organisations will include the NHS, local councils and other important strategic partners such as the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. ICSs are intended to better facilitate and coordinate health services to support programmes and outcomes that improve population health, whilst reducing inequalities between different groups.

Delivering system wide integrated care will be no small task, requiring the connection of existing health and care services to enhance accessibility, data sharing and communication between partners to deliver high quality, joined up patient care. With a large number of complex organisations involved in the operations of an ICS, digital connectivity will be paramount to enabling the level of interdependency needed between partners to deliver care collaboration at scale.

Digitisation, digitalisation and the better use of technology forms an integral part of the UK healthcare strategy and will be key drivers for ICSs in collaborating on patient care and optimising system capacity; however implementing solutions can pose a challenge when ICS partners are using different legacy systems or platforms to capture their digital needs. Rolling out effective, high-quality solutions that move towards standardising systems will be key for newly established ICSs, ensuring that all users can data share effectively. Better access to health information systems such as Electronic Patient Records (‘EPR’), for example, will support a smoother transition to joined-up care by enabling all partners within the ICS to update and access patient records in real-time creating a single source of truth.

As the government continues to focus the post pandemic healthcare recovery on clearing the backlog in elective care, it will be critical for providers within an ICS to have access to shared data platforms in order to streamline patient pathways and ongoing care as efficiently as possible. In particular, improving digital connectivity with investment in technology across an ICS will support and enable partners to communicate more openly and in real time, allowing for issues such as the current congestion in patient discharges to be addressed at pace between acute providers and the social care sector, optimising bed occupancy.

HealthTrust Europe believes that procuring ICT hardware, software, specialist resource and solutions at a system level is equally complex but can be simplified through procurement frameworks with the expertise to support with stakeholder engagement, developing requirements and standardisation.  For example, the use of cloud services across an ICS means that all permitted partners operating within the network can access the information they need in a fast and effective way. With external support provided by a specialist procurement partner to optimise supplier relationships, best value and to minimise any disruption to existing services. A simple solution such as this can help overcome the barriers and complexities of legacy ICT systems across ICS partners, enabling full transparency through the cloud.

ICSs partnering to procure their digital journey through free to access, purpose-built frameworks such as HealthTrust Europe’s ICT Framework can benefit from a simple, compliant and cost-effective route to market for ICSs to invest in the latest products, services and solutions to enable digital connectivity through established supply chains. HealthTrust Europe remains committed to supporting ICSs with the tools, procurement expertise and engagement to achieve best value for their system.



Cost Saving Solutions to Global Energy Market Shocks

In what has been dubbed the ‘perfect storm’ for energy markets worldwide, the combined impacts of limited supply, extreme weather conditions, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine have significantly affected global energy supply and have resulted in record prices for gas, electricity, and coal. Indeed, experts have predicted that gas prices could remain at twice their usual level until 2025, demonstrating the longevity of this crisis.

As such, organisations across a range of sectors are facing increased costs for utilities.

Given the scale and projected endurance of this crisis, the case for investing in energy efficiency has never been stronger and there is considerable potential within most public sector organisations to make large energy cost and carbon emission savings through the upgrade and refurbishment of outdated facilities. Organisations across all sectors are also seeking to become more environmentally aware in accordance with the national green agenda and are actively working toward enhancing their energy efficiency to minimise their negative environmental output. This is becoming all the more crucial as consumers become more eco-aware and make decisions based on the social value of organisations.

As the Government continues to pursue its ambition to achieve Net Zero by 2050, it is critical that organisations fully consider the environmental impact of their operations. By proactively introducing energy efficient measures, organisations will be able to reduce their risk of exposure to any emerging energy standards from the Government, developing their status as an environmental leader whilst simultaneously reducing costs through such efficiency gains.

Moreover, as the Government urges UK public sector organisations to review their supplier contracts, it is imperative that organisations have a firm understanding of, and trust in, their utilities providers.

Offering a one stop shop for all of an organisation’s utilities needs, the HealthTrust Europe Utilities Framework provides a range of services across two distinct Lots and presents organisations with a compliant route to market for utilities solutions. Beyond this, HealthTrust Europe empowers organisations to make decisions that fit their unique energy needs and have a committed customer care team on-hand to support organisations throughout the contract process.

As with all HealthTrust Europe Frameworks, the Utilities offering can be tailored around the customer’s unique requirements and budget to provide better control of their spending. The Framework provides customers with the two-fold benefit of enhancing their environmental credibility through carbon-saving technology and offering the possibility of reducing and mitigating costs. Additional discounts are also offered by some suppliers within the Framework to qualifying participating authorities, further supporting organisations to reduce their expenses.

In using this Framework, organisations are able to improve their green credentials and reputations as environmental leaders, and are provided with cost-saving solutions that enable them to enjoy stability in the face of ongoing shocks to the energy market. In turn, HealthTrust Europe’s Utilities Framework can enable you to position your company as a socially valuable entity, and free up time and resource to allow you to prioritise alternative business objectives, all of which ultimately contributes to long-term prosperity.

To learn more about HealthTrust Europe’s Utilities Framework, click here or get in touch with our dedicated customer care team via

NHS staff shortages – addressing the challenge

Staffing shortages within the NHS and wider healthcare market continue to be a key challenge across the UK. The media and executive reports highlight a worsening position with little light at the end of the tunnel however there are strategies and solutions that can be adopted to help alleviate some of the pressures of achieving successful outcomes.

It is well documented that the NHS has key worker vacancies across GP, nursing and key allied healthcare worker job roles. Current figures suggest more than 30,000 extra nurses are needed and almost 3,000 GPs1. In March a report was issued by three leading think tanks which predicted that in the next five years nurse shortages will double and GP gaps nearly treble, unless action is taken. The Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and King’s Fund say on current trends this will rise to nearly 70,000 nurses and more than 7,000 GPs within five years. Report co-author Anita Charlesworth said: “The workforce is the make-or-break issue for the health service. Unless staffing shortages are substantially reduced, the recent NHS Long Term Plan can only be a wish list.” 1

The NHS Long Term plan, which was published in January, outlines its strategy to improve patient care over the next ten years and aims to address the problem by increasing the NHS workforce by training and recruiting more professionals. This will include thousands more clinical placements for undergraduate nurses, hundreds more medical school places, and more routes into the NHS such as apprenticeships, as well as efforts to support improvements in retention.

However, the NHS Long Term plan is just that – long term – and in the meantime many healthcare providers have staffing challenges to address today. Faced with this situation it can be difficult to embed the overall workforce aspirations of an organisation and to build a strategy that will deliver operationally. However, there are some key actions that providers can take to help mitigate some immediate risks and drive a pro-active approach to addressing market challenges.

International recruitment

With the current political uncertainty regarding the UK’s membership of the EU, healthcare providers may have concern over any changes to immigration status. The Home Secretary has extended the minimum salary exemption for overseas nurses wanting to work in the UK up to the next review period in January 2021 to allay concerns. And the government has recently announced that health and social care workers with professional qualifications from EU institutions can continue to practise in the UK after an exit from the European Union. Employment contracts will not need to be changed if the UK leaves without a deal and staff will not have to reapply for their current positions.

Gary Snart is Director of Total Workforce Solutions at HealthTrust Europe (HTE) which operates as a healthcare solutions partner for the NHS and commercial health and care providers, working as a bridge between suppliers and providers. On the topic of international retention and recruitment he advises: “Keeping an open dialogue with existing members of staff who are from the European Union and the Europe Economic Area is paramount. Anyone currently living in the UK who is an EU/EEA citizen has the right to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 20212 in order to  stay in the UK; it is in the interest of providers to offer support and guidance for staff who have applied for this or are required to do so.”

For each staff group that is a recruitment challenge setting up international recruitment projects is a sensible step to take. Gary advises on deciding on a realistic cohort of new recruits that can be on-boarded effectively each month and integrated into an organisation with an excellent experience. He adds: “This will serve to develop word of mouth recruitment between international peers, generating a regular new headcount to improve continuity of care locally and reduce pressure areas such as controlling agency spend.”

Pastoral care offered to new recruits and employees can help organisations retain staff members. Simple steps such as finding out if they are happy at work and feel reassured that there will be a role for them whatever the future holds for the UK can help. Setting up and encouraging social groups and events can help overseas staff feel more secure in their role.  Managers can also ask employees if they need help and guidance to feel settled, such as setting up a British bank account, and if they are in regular contact with family back home.

Manage staffing agencies

There has been criticism in the media of the use of agency staff due to the cost of this route, however most providers use agency staff to some extent. It remains important to engage with agencies to manage requirements effectively. Whilst agency staff do have an important role to play, organisations have to balance the financial cost of agency compared to that of permanent or staff bank workers.

On the topic of how to save money on agency spend Gary believes that there are several tactics and mechanisms that can save healthcare providers money and develop a level of partnership with suppliers that have a shared interest in changing existing market pressures. He said: “It is advisable to approach staffing agencies in an organised and pre-agreed manner, if alternative options are not available it is always advisable not to leave staff requests until the last minute (24-72hrs prior) as time constraints could force providers to agree less favourable terms.”

“If an agency must be used it its desirable to take control from the beginning, using a framework like those provided by HealthTrust Europe that is patient-centred and clinically-led, driving quality, safety, service, and price. Healthcare solutions partners such as HealthTrust Europe provide expertise and guidance as a trusted adviser to healthcare partners, operating independent of the market to develop agreements that work for all parties in the short and long term.”

Gary also advises that healthcare providers use solutions providers to them keep up-to-date on market intelligence on NHSI rate caps and market positions. This can provide them with key data enhancements such as intelligence on local, regional & national average rate data per specialism, grade/band and shift, and which suppliers to contact to get the best fill or adherence to cap in any rota gap sent out to agency.

Workforce Planning Technology

Creative use of IT software can help improve recruitment processes, from planning to vacancy release to executive reporting. Developing something as simple as a database of healthcare workers who are available on a flexible basis could help Trusts and other providers avoid using expensive agency staff and to put more control in-house to enhance collaboration in areas such as bank. Rather than contacting a staffing agency as soon as staff shortages are identified an up-to-date database of known workers can identify available workers to fill vacancies and subsequently help to keep salary costs down.

A lot of time and money is spent by organisations merely scheduling their staff, however technology can help improve workforce planning. Rostering software can produce optimal rosters/rotas that meet safe staffing levels, quickly and easily. They can help managers oversee flexible shift patterns, provide a real time view of staff on duty and the skills available within the workforce to drive performance and control costs. Using e-rostering services can help forecasting and subsequent planning for staffing shortfalls and will display visibility of purchasing. As well as enhancing care quality and safety for patients, rostering IT can increase productivity and improve staff morale.

Steve Barrow, Deputy Director of Finance at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust worked with HealthTrust Europe to embed a collaborative agency project for healthcare staffing with regional colleagues from across the sustainability and transformation partnership (STP). A successful project led through procurement teams put in place a new approach to challenge the agency market and expenditure. Steve said: “The Trust adopted a robust yet transparent stance with the agencies that has led to improved administrative processes and procedures and reduced the rates towards the agency caps introduced by NHS Improvement.”

In summary, Gary said: “As a trusted partner for the NHS and commercial health and care providers HealthTrust Europe is aware that providers need to be focused on tactics and strategies that make a difference to staffing shortages today but with their mind on their future plans.

“This could be through them saving money on agency to free up funds for wider workforce projects, integrating new technology or developing the pipeline for the next generation of healthcare staff coming into the UK.

“These actions can enhance the purchasing power of providers to enable further savings to be delivered in the future, freeing up funds to be spent on providing high quality care and services for their patients.”




Two years after WannaCry – are you protected?

How healthcare organisations can check they are defended from cyber-attacks.

In May 2017 parts of the NHS were left paralysed due to the WannaCry cyber-attack. The NHS was not the only victim of the global attack and it wasn’t a specific target, however it cost the National Health Service £92million 1 and highlighted weaknesses in its digital defences. This disruption to patient care highlighted how vital cyber security is for health and care organisations and, importantly, how the NHS needed to make security improvements across its service.

Two years on, Phil Barrington, HealthTrust Europe’s Director of ICT Solutions, looks at what management steps health and care providers should be taking to protect themselves from similar attacks.

WannaCry scrambled computers’ files, demanding payment before they could be opened again. It spread to more computers than previous ransomware attacks, hit computers used in hospital trusts, and had a bigger impact than previous attempts. However, cyber-security isn’t just a technology-based issue, it is it is often at the heart of delivery of high-quality patient care and ensuring safety.

There are several reasons why an organisation could become vulnerable to hacking activities as illustrated by the NHS in the wake of WannaCry. A National Audit Office report highlights that before the attack, an assessment of 88 out of 236 trusts by NHS Digital found that none passed its required cyber-security standards. The report said NHS trusts had not acted on critical alerts from NHS Digital. In addition, a warning in 2014 from, what was then the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office, to patch or migrate away from vulnerable older software was not acted upon by many trusts, leaving them vulnerable.

Having a formal mechanism for assessing whether an organisation has complied with cyber security advice is important. At the time of the attack, the Department of Health had no such system in place for assessing whether NHS organisations had done this, and it was found that organisations could have better managed their computers’ firewalls.

Cyber security isn’t just the responsibility of an IT department, it is the responsibility of every single person within an organisation. Staff should be able to identify issues such as potential phishing attacks, malware infections, and know how to report suspicious activity. In addition, staff should be aware of the risks of working remotely and using social media.

Eighteen months after WannaCry The Telegraph reported that a Freedom of Information request revealed around 25% of NHS trusts hadn’t offered staff any kind of specialist cyber security training. The request also discovered that spending on training varied enormously, with trusts investing anywhere between £500 and £33,000.

When it comes to applying cyber security measures it’s not a case of one size fits all organisations. As the case of WannaCry’s effect on the NHS proved, it’s not just an organisation’s technology that can contribute to its vulnerability, but a lack of management of how its technology is used.

Looking to your own organisation, a primary step to ensure you are protected against a cyber-attack is to conduct a cyber security audit. This is a cyber review of an organisation and its IT estate. It identifies the threats, vulnerabilities and risks the organisation faces, and the impact and likelihood of such risks materialising. It will examine issues such as data security, risk management, training and awareness, and business continuity and incident management. And with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 organisations now face severe penalties in case of a breach or hack resulting in lost personal data. This means organisations need to take the necessary steps to protect personal data.

HealthTrust Europe (HTE) is a solutions partner for health and care providers; led by its mission, the commitment to the care and improvement of human life, it helps organisations source the best value products and services to deliver patient care. HTE works in partnership with its suppliers who can provide a free initial consultation to discuss how they can help an organisation detect weaknesses which would make them vulnerable to a cyber-attack. HTE offers access to a wide scope of products and services across IT hardware, software, service and support requirements, with an emphasis on driving quality, safety, service and price. Its framework is covered by NHS terms and conditions and is fully OJEU compliant avoiding the expense and non-competitive market pricing associated with single tender contract frameworks. It is also GDPR compliant and all transactional activity is auditable to ensure both compliance and governance requirements are met and exceeded.


1 The Telegraph 11 October 2018


Partnership During Time of Uncertainty

As the proposed EU Exit draws closer, HealthTrust Europe (HTE) is poised to support both the NHS and commercial health and care providers in the UK to operate efficiently and continue to deliver high quality patient care.

HTE has been diligently preparing its mitigation plan to address risk resulting from the UK’s proposed exit from the EU over the last 12 months. The organisation stands in readiness as a trusted partner for the NHS and commercial health and care providers, and as part of an international healthcare organisation can leverage over 50 years of experience and expertise in the face of adversity.

Alongside the Department of Health and Social Care EU Exit risk mitigation plans, HTE issued a questionnaire to its supplier community back in 2018 in order to assess potential risks to continuity of supply so it could pro-actively work to support its customers.

In February 2019, HTE held its inaugural supplier evening; setting out its direction as the UK faces leaving the EU, to advance supplier engagement and to outline how the company operates as a bridge between healthcare providers and suppliers.

HTE also updated its standard contract terms and conditions in October 2018 addressing the supplier’s obligation for continuity of supply of products and services along with compliance to the new GDPR regulations.

HTE’s updated contract terms and conditions ensures three core benefits for the NHS and commercial health and care providers:

  • fixed pricing for the term of the contract with any delivery cost increases being the responsibility of the supplier;
  • contractual protection to any risk of late delivery, and
  • confidence in a robust contract which explicitly excludes “Brexit” as a force majeure event.

In the UK, HTE serves 148 acute hospitals and 140 non-acute sites leveraging its circa £1bn purchasing power to negotiate cost saving opportunities and best terms for its members.

HTE operates a unique Group Purchasing Organisation (GPO) providing a forum for shared best practice and peer discussion including EU Exit mitigation plans.

HTE continues to closely monitor the political and economic landscape in the UK and is taking every step to support its partners during this time of uncertainty.

HTE has a dedicated Customer Care team and is encouraging health and care providers to contact them by calling 0845 887 5000 or emailing for help and assistance.

Five ways to improve your nursing recruitment in the face of Brexit

The challenges of Brexit and healthcare staffing shortages continue as the latest NHS staffing level figures (November 2018) reveal a shortfall of 41,722 nursing roles, alongside wider doctor and allied health professional vacancies.

The Cavendish Coalition, an alliance of 36 health and social care organisations, estimates that as many as 51,000 nursing staff will be needed in 2021, when the UK leaves the post-Brexit transition period. This means the equivalent of 45 hospitals’ worth of nurses will be required to fulfil the estimated shortage under traditional deployment models.

The NHS Long Term plan, which outlines its strategy to improve patient care over the next ten years, aims to address the problem by increasing the NHS workforce by training and recruiting more professionals.

This will include thousands more clinical placements for undergraduate nurses, hundreds more medical school places, and more routes into the NHS such as apprenticeships, as well as efforts to support improvements in retention. Meanwhile, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has proposed an easing of the level of English writing skills required of nurses from outside the UK to encourage more overseas staff to work in the UK.

However, faced with complex challenges caused by staff shortages and Brexit, it can be difficult to support your overall workforce aspirations and strategy. We have put together some key actions to help mitigate some immediate risks:

  1. Retain your existing EU staff

In the run-up to Brexit, make sure you are talking to existing members of staff who are from the European Union and the Europe Economic Area. Make sure existing staff have applied for residence under the indefinite right to remain which is offered by the British government. Reconsider the pastoral care you offer employees and find out if they are happy at work and feel reassured that there will be a role for them post-Brexit. Check if they need help and guidance to feel settled, such as setting up a British bank account, and ask if they are in regular contact with family back home.

  1. Improve your recruitment strategy

Start by looking at how well you sell yourself to potential candidates, for example do you highlight the benefits of working for your organisation and any prestigious specialisms you offer that will appeal to potential employees? If you use a recruitment agency ensure your recruiters are fully briefed about the benefits of working for you so they can convey this to potential candidates.

Have you considered international recruitment for key worker vacancies such as doctors and radiographers? If you are looking to employ overseas workers, ensure you set your recruitment suppliers clear deliverables and ensure these are adhered. Measuring your recruitment strategy will help you evaluate if your recruitment tactics are effective at converting your contracted workers to substantive posts.

  1. Use IT to improve your recruitment success

Creative use of IT can help you improve your recruitment processes. Developing something as simple as a database of healthcare workers who are available on a flexible basis could help you avoid using expensive agency staff. Rather than contacting an agency as soon as a staff shortage is identified you would be able to consult your database of known workers to help you fill your vacancies, helping to keep your salary costs down.

A lot of time and money is spent by organisations merely scheduling their staff, however technology can help you improve your workforce planning. Rostering software can help you produce optimal rosters that meet safe staffing levels, quickly and easily. They can help your managers oversee flexible shift patterns, provide a real time view of staff on duty and the skills available within the workforce to drive performance and control costs. As well as enhancing care quality and safety for patients, rostering IT can increase productivity and improve staff morale.

  1. Manage staffing agencies better

Most trusts rely on agency nursing staff to some extent. Whilst agency nursing staff have an important role, they are normally more expensive than the equivalent permanent or bank staff. Approach staffing agencies as a last resort. If you must use an agency or agencies try not to leave staff requests until the last minute because you could be forced to agree less favourable terms. Also try to save money by negotiating lower rates of pay for nurses on longer contracts.

If you have to rely on agencies, take control from the beginning by setting performance targets based on quality, safety, service, and price. Check if your trust has a clear policy that it will not pay rates higher than the rates agreed via a framework and stick to it. As already mentioned, using e-rostering services can help you monitor patterns to forecast and plan for staffing shortfalls and display visibility of purchasing

  1. Don’t work in a silo

Pool your resources with other trusts within your region, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) or group purchasing organisations (GPOs) to reduce silo working. Significant savings can be made by working collaboratively, and this can also be done across wards and units, for example, by sharing staff banks or agreeing prices for some agency staff.

Finally, review your workforce practices. If current systems aren’t working, explore other systems and adapt your strategy rather than applying methods that you have found aren’t suitable for you.

Click here to learn more about our Total Workforce Solutions

Bridging the resourcing gap in the NHS

Pressure on vital pathology services is mounting as populations age, chronic conditions increase in frequency and services become constrained by staff shortages. Against this backdrop, outsourced services must evolve to meet the needs of an increasingly challenging diagnostics landscape.

In its latest survey, Meeting Pathology Demand – Histopathology Workforce Census 2018, the Royal College of Pathologists, highlighted that only three per cent of histopathology departments said they had enough staff to meet clinical demand. Added to these pressures, there is an approaching retirement crisis – a quarter of all histopathologists are aged 55 or over and training places remain unfilled.

The college identifies that the cost of staff shortages is not just financial but for patients, it can mean worrying delays in diagnosis and treatment.

HealthTrust Europe has developed the UK’s first OJEU-compliant framework agreement for pathology referral testing and pathology reporting services, to help address these challenges.

The new, free-to-access framework is designed to enable clinical and procurement decision- makers in the NHS to call off time-sensitive pathology services.  It addresses bottlenecks and delays – caused by staff shortages and peaks in demand – in a timely and cost-effective way.

With increasing pressure on diagnostic services, the first framework to be OJEU-compliant has an important role to play in meeting the ‘model hospital’s’ aims of providing the best patient care in the most efficient way.

Daniel Chapman, director of diagnostics at HealthTrust Europe explains:

“listening to, and consulting with clinicians and suppliers, was critical in developing the only OJEU-compliant, easy-to-use, pathology services framework.  The end result addresses all the major concerns over quality, consistency, efficiency and value for money.

“As we all know, pathology services are critical to meeting targets in the NHS – both in terms of diagnosis and treatment.  As a key pillar of the NHS Improvement programme, pathology services are under rigorous scrutiny as the drive towards network integration and improved operational and clinical efficiency continues apace.

“As a healthcare solutions partner, we understand how imperative it is for any pathology framework to provide consistency, quality and seamless integration.  Those qualities ensure the framework adds value both clinically and operationally.

“Pathology services are facing several challenges while having to meet an escalating demand.  Every year the NHS carries out over 500 million[i] biochemistry and 130 million haematology tests; over 50 million microbiology requests are processed; over 13 million histopathology slides and four million cytology slides are examined.

“It’s not only important that the process – from taking a patient sample, through to testing and reporting – works seamlessly and effectively but also that it adds value by relieving the pressure on healthcare providers and reducing diagnosis turnaround,”

said Daniel.

HTE’s Pathology Referral Testing and Pathology Reporting Framework draws on expert providers to include full coverage of tests and reporting across five lots. It can be accessed either via direct award or mini competition.

The lots include routine and esoteric testing with electronic reporting of results, consultant-led cytology testing and screening and histopathology reporting with clinical support and interpretation.

“The framework is the first of its kind and must be reliable and efficient to ensure it is trusted to add value to pathology services. With this in mind, we have worked hard to offer immediate access to compliant, comprehensive and cost-effective solutions. These eliminate the need for time-consuming tender processes, reduce the number of SLAs to manage and offer flexibility in the availability of electronic formats that will integrate seamlessly with cloud-based and laboratory IT systems,”

added Daniel.

“We are acutely aware of the time and cost pressures these services are under but also on the need to deliver accurate and reliable services that meet patients’ needs and that can potentially lead to improved outcomes.

“The OJEU-compliant framework has been designed to remove the administration burden and human error from transcribing test results into the laboratory information management system (LIMS). It also facilitates the consolidation of all SLAs into one agreement to support quick and easy outsourcing across a comprehensive portfolio of pathology referral testing and reporting services.

“To further reduce the administrative burden, the framework provides one point of contact for the entire end-to-end process. In addition, all of the logistics are taken care of within the contract price.  This eliminates the need for additional logistics arrangements, the hassle of managing multiple logistics providers and transport legislation requirements.

“Having a broad pool of specialists available, the framework supports the 62-day cancer turnaround targets while freeing up admin time.  This allows for an increased focus on other activities that will help improve capacity and performance such as training or systems integration.

“Ultimately, we understand that optimising services through utilisation of the framework relies on trust and, to that end, we undertake comprehensive and rigorous vetting of suppliers to ensure they follow best practice guidelines.  They are also regularly audited to stringent KPIs to drive continuous performance improvement and excellence which includes ensuring validation of clinical registrations. To reinforce protection of patient information and ensure confidentiality, we have also adopted 100% GDPR compliance.”

Learn more about our Pathology Referral Testing and Reporting Services

Legal Services and Healthcare – Common Misconceptions

There are several misconceptions surrounding the provision of legal services to the healthcare sector. To help clear up some of the confusion we spoke with Jonathan Hayden from Browne Jacobson LLP, and Jane Strobel from Capsticks Solicitors LLP, two of the suppliers under our Legal Services framework, plus our own internal legal team.

Misconception 1: It’s too expensive to get legal involved at the beginning of a project

On the contrary, customers generally find that when they get legal involved at the beginning they save money and time and avoid problems at a later point. Customers might think it would be cheaper to do the opposite, but Jonathan said: “By gaining a legal perspective in the early stages it can actually add value, helping to avoid more serious problems later by ensuring issues are dealt with appropriately from the outset.”

Jonathan points out that, particularly on commercial projects and procurement, when documents are not properly prepared or checked by a legal team, NHS organisations can find themselves with a “poor bargaining position”. The issue then escalates from prevention through to damage control, costing more and potentially affecting the delivery of critical services. He notes that disputes also consume valuable management time, and by investing upfront you are more likely to have a smooth-running project that requires less input from the busy senior managers.

Misconception 2: Brexit won’t affect healthcare in the UK

Although no one is 100% sure as to what the effect of Brexit will be on healthcare, it is likely that the NHS will be affected in some way. The challenge is working out what action can usefully be taken now – but organisations should speak to their advisers about the possible ramifications and contingency arrangements. It is also anticipated that customers will need legal assistance and advice to help them navigate issues in a post-Brexit legal landscape.

Jane said: “There is more of a possibility of changes with the way legal work is conducted for Trusts who license abroad. For those who fall in this category it is even more important to seek legal advice at the earliest point.”

Misconception number 3: I don’t need to check if I am completely GDPR compliant

The NHS has long since had systems and processes in place (although often quite complex) that help to safeguard and protect patient information. However, with the new GDPR regulations some Trusts have been caught out.

Jane states that with equal onus on the data owner and data provider it is more challenging for customers to provide an audit for all their stored information, provide details for the location of the data, and explain why they have collected the data, and how long they have kept it for, or plan on keeping it.
Some think it is perhaps too expensive to commission a legal audit, but Jane argues that the repercussions of a slight slip or misunderstanding can be extremely costly, making this expense seem relatively small.

HealthTrust Europe’s legal services framework is not only GDPR compliant but are provided by suppliers who have NHS experience and have advised Trusts how to fortify their systems in line with GDPR guidelines. The money and time spent upfront on advice to review GDPR practice can often be money well spent.

Misconception 4: Engaging a law firm will not help me improve the way my digital systems communicate with each other.

There is much focus on creating a more joined up approach throughout the NHS, to improve the level of care patients receive whilst relieving some of the stress they are currently experiencing. Capsticks Solicitors LLP and Browne Jacobson LLP are two of HealthTrust Europe’s specialist legal suppliers who can help customers implement the government’s digitalisation initiative, particularly alongside the effective development and implementation of an integrated care system.

Jane stresses that one way of achieving this is by becoming more informed about the way systems communicate with each other – an initiative NHS England has recently began to encourage through their emphasis on digitalisation.

Misconception 5: I can only use local suppliers within a Legal Services framework

Healthcare organisations once used location to choose suppliers, but this is no longer the case. With the advancement of technology, it has become even easier to get the support you need from a supplier, wherever they are located. Now, most of HealthTrust Europe’s suppliers are located across the world and have multiple offices within the United Kingdom. They work in partnership with their clients to achieve the best possible outcome for the best possible prices, regardless of geography.

Misconception 6: I can’t switch or use multiple law firms

Many NHS organisations source legal support based on historic arrangements and continue to use them based on an, often incorrect, assumption that they are “tied-in” to that supplier. On the contrary, in most cases those organisations (especially where they have not retendered for some time) will not bound into an exclusive arrangement and the framework will allow them to easily change suppliers based on their preferences and requirements. An advantage of using a Legal Services framework is also the ease of choosing multiple suppliers within the framework.

Jonathan suggests customers should review their current arrangements, and the capability of alternative providers within the market, to ensure they continue to receive the most appropriate service.


Competition is important

To ensure the very best value for money, public procurement should be open to competition. To encourage competition it is extremely important that the process is transparent and visible.
There are three types of competitions that allow a customer to select the most appropriate supplier. These are direct awards (fixed); mini competitions that are partly fixed; and mini competitions that are fully open.

HealthTrust Europe’s framework process ensures customers engage a firm which are specialists and whose offer is best suited to their needs. If the actual offering is a key factor and a desired supplier doesn’t offer the most competitive offer the customer will instead be paired with the supplier who best meets their criteria.

HealthTrust Europe Legal Services framework provides a compliant route to market that factors in customer’s varying needs by offering multiple options, world class specialist suppliers and savings without compromising on quality.

Browne Jacobson LLP is a national law firm with a leading health and care practice that supports clients across the public and independent sectors. Find out more here 

Capsticks Solicitors LLP is a leading national law firm in the health, housing and social care sectors. Find out more here 

Both of these suppliers along with others within the framework have ranked in key specialist areas in both the Chambers and Partners UK 2019 and Legal 500 2019. Our own internal legal team consists of five specialist solicitors with specialisms in Public Contracting and all are experts of Commercial Law.

HealthTrust Europe is exploring options to host webinars on topical issues within healthcare, including Integrated Care Systems, GDPR and Brexit. If you are interested in participating, please contact us.

Helping to Guard against Antimicrobial Resistance

Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic, and since then these medicines have been a cornerstone to modern healthcare to kill bacteria or prevent their growth.

However, the persistent overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human and animal health has encouraged the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which occurs when microbes, such as bacteria, become resistant to the drugs used to treat them (source: NHS).

Globally events are taking place this month (November) to raise awareness of how to use antibiotics in a responsible way that will help keep them effective for future generations. The World Health Organization’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is taking place between 12th – 18th November, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is holding European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18th November. Meanwhile, Public Health England is asking people to become Antibiotic Guardians. The campaign asks individuals and organisations to take a simple pledge about how they will make better use of antibiotics and help prevent these vital medicines becoming obsolete.

Public Health England asks adults to register online that:

  • For infections that our bodies are good at fighting off on their own, like coughs, colds, sore throats, and flu, I pledge to try treating the symptoms for five days rather than going to the GP.
  • For infections that our bodies are good at fighting off on their own, like coughs colds sore throats and flu, I pledge to talk to my pharmacist about how to treat the symptoms first rather than going to the GP.
  • It is vital we prevent antibiotics from getting into the environment. I pledge to always take any unused antibiotics to my pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • If the NHS offers me a flu vaccination, I pledge to accept.
  • If I’m prescribed antibiotics, I will take them exactly as prescribed and never share them with others.

Despite the risks of antibiotic resistance, research shows that 38% of people still expect an antibiotic from a doctor’s surgery, NHS walk-in centre or ‘GP out-of-hours’ service when they visited with a cough, flu or a throat, ear, sinus or chest infection in 2017 (source: PHE). To help prevent the spread of flu, HealthTrust Europe has already rolled out a company-wide flu vaccination scheme, offering employees free vaccines. As well as helping to keep staff healthy, the vaccination programme will prevent the spread of the illness to friends and family, and help decrease the burden of winter illnesses on the NHS.

And this summer our parent company in the States, Health Trust, made a $50,000 grant to leading healthcare company, LifePoint Health®, in recognition of its antimicrobial stewardship program and its commitment to appropriate antimicrobial usage. LifePoint will be using the grant to advance its capabilities in Days of Therapy reporting (the number of days a medicine was for which any amount of administered to a patient), and antimicrobial use and resistance reporting across facilities in 22 states.

If you would like to join HealthTrust Europe in supporting the Antibiotic Guardian campaign you can find further details on the Public Health England website.

People who are at risk of developing complications from flu (including the over 65s, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses) sometimes need antiviral medications to recover. As flu symptoms can be like those caused by a bacterial infection, high risk patients who have flu symptoms may need a lab test to confirm the diagnosis before antivirals are prescribed. Although lab tests are very reliable, they can take several days for results.

Due to the delay doctors may prescribe antibiotics just in case the test comes back negative. As stated above overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, and they are not effective at treating the flu virus.

HealthTrust Europe has point-of-care solutions that support the quick, correct prescribing of medication. The devices can provide test results in fewer than 13 minutes, right at the point of care, such as a GP surgery. For further details about the framework for Point of Care Testing which includes handheld, bench-top, connected and non-connected devices, you can download our pathology framework briefs.