Why flexibility is important and adaptability through the first year of the CMSP

  • 10/07/2024
  • Written by Jonathan Kaye

This month we’re looking at why #FlexibilityMatters. To introduce this topic Jonathan Kaye, Associate Director of Procurement for Facilities and Office Solutions discusses why flexibility is important and what has been learned about adaptability through the first year of the CMSP contract.

It has now been a year since we officially launched the Facilities and Office Solutions category management service provider contract. There have been many highlights over the last 12 months, but as an outsourced service provider to NHS Supply Chain our performance against our contractual targets is hugely important.

I’m incredibly proud of the effort the team has put in which enabled us to perform excellently against all of our 11 KPI’s; these range from how we manage the quality of our products, data quality, programme management and supplier service levels. This was a team effort across the business and one that I am really proud of.

Another highlight that was a huge team effort was the development of the National Healthcare Uniform, it has been a personal ambition of mine to deliver this project, and it has not been without its challenges. The two awarded suppliers Alsico and Mi-Hub working together to finalise a great design ensuring consistency of quality and colour. We are delighted to have welcomed on board a number of pathfinder trusts, I have been overwhelmed by the commitment of all those involved and their resilience. The National Healthcare Uniform is a great initiative, and the product offers some real benefits across a number of objectives.

We have faced challenges with this project and the NHS uniform is an emotive subject which will always capture the attention of the health workforce. But our team have listened repeatedly to the voices of wearers, adapted to changes and delivered a uniform the NHS can be proud of. The resolve of the team has been amazing and I am proud to lead a remarkable group of people who never give up when faced with a challenge.


From a procurement practice point of view, you always have to be flexible, we have an ethos in the team that we should never simply redo a category strategy and we always look for something new, but this has become more important than ever over the last few years. We have endured huge change from the inflationary pressures of the pandemic and the geopolitical instability we have seen have resulted in huge cost pressures across the non-clinical categories we are responsible for. This meant we had to quickly adapt to new ways of working, and new category strategies. We outperformed the market in terms of minimising those pressures, but I am pleased to say this year has seen a significant improvement and we are now back to focussing on savings. 

In terms of flexibility within NHS Supply Chain, which we are a part of, we have gone through a major change programme, several different business models have been consolidated into one standard approach, the scale and complexity was huge but are beginning to see the benefits of this approach. 

Over the last few years, we have had to adapt to a more sustainable procurement approach, we now incorporate social value into our procurement processes, which has been a steep learning curve for us as an organisation and our suppliers. An area of particular focus for us has been the reduction of single use plastics in the catalogue. We were tasked with reducing the amount of single use plastics the NHS were consuming, as well as having to contend with legislation banning certain items. We had to collaborate with our suppliers to secure new products and supply chains to ensure we were able to offer alternatives at the right price. A great example of this was the polystyrene cup ban last October, we worked to ensure supply in the run up to the ban and to ensure the right product in the right quantity for changeover, in the first year of the contract we saved more than 600 tonnes of single use plastic from going to landfill through the use of more sustainable solutions. 

The biggest challenge we face going into the second year of the CMSP contract are the new procurement regulations, we have been operating under the existing system since 2015 and there are some big changes coming. We need to rethink our category strategies to take advantage of the new ways of working, and these will bring positive benefits to the way we can tender if we get these right. There are also considerations we need to make around our contracting processes, the new regulations put an emphasis on transparency, and we will need to adapt to ensure we meet these new requirements.

 Our relationships with external partners are vital in supporting us to offer flexible solutions to our customers, and the voice of the customer has always been really important to our procurement strategies. This has manifested itself in various ways over the years from Clinical Advisory groups through to Trusted Customers and Reference Trusts. Our external Customer Groups such as Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and Association for Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (AHCP) provide a specialist voice in our non-clinical categories where best practice and innovative ideas develop. Being part of these groups, listening to their needs performs a vital part of our Category Management Process. 

Get notifications for related news stories