Webinar: Challenges and solutions in healthcare procurement and supply chain that prioritise patient and staff safety

Webinar: Challenges and solutions in healthcare procurement and supply chain that prioritise patient and staff safety

Wednesday 30 March 2022, 10:00-12:00

The webinar, chaired by Jonathan Hazan, Chair of Patient Safety Learning, had 50 attendees and featured presentations and panel discussions on supply chain and procurement in the NHS, the role of human factors in delivering safety in supply chains, and infection prevention and control in perioperative care. Mr Hazan introduced Patient Safety Learning and highlighted the importance and interconnectivity of both patient and healthcare worker safety and how this needs to be prioritised in procurement in healthcare.

The first session of the webinar featured Jodi Chapman of NHS Supply Chain who outlined the organisation’s aims, its support for innovation and the introduction of technology in UK health and social care. Ms Chapman gave an overview of the involvement of health and care staff across the procurement process; an introduction to the Clinical and Product Assurance team (CaPA); and the role of Clinical Nurse Advisors in the procurement process. She concluded with an explanation of the SIREN process to manage supply disruption issues, the importance of human factors in this and provided a case study of the use of elastomeric devices in the delivery of antibiotics with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The webinar then featured a panel discussion with Janine Jolly of the Medical Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Helen Hughes of Patient Safety Learning, Tracey Cammish of CaPA, NHS Supply Chain and Caroline Beecham of BD on prioritising patient and staff safety in the healthcare supply chain. The panel began with introductions and a brief overview of their respective organisations, before opening the discussion to attendees. Key issues raised include the possible effects on medical supplies in the UK in 2023 due to the requirements of the inclusion of the UKCA product markings. Caroline Beecham noted the ongoing effects of changes in regulation due to Brexit and that industry will take time to adapt to changes to UKCA packaging. Janine Jolly informed the panel that the MHRA were acutely aware of the problem and would ensure that adequate supplies reach the UK market, favouring an integrated medicine and medical devices approach. Helen Hughes then stressed the importance of communication between suppliers and end users in the interest of patient safety.

The panel were then asked about the design process of medical devices to minimise risk, to which Tracey Cammish acknowledged the importance of the supply chain essential specifications programme and the role of human factors in driving standardisation of supply towards the best available devices. From and industry perspective, Caroline Beecham noted the importance of ensuring that the potential for error with any given product was as low as possible, and that this may often require input from end users to establish errors to be rectified on the supply side.

The next session featured Chris Frerk of the Clinical Human Factors Group and Collette Longstaffe of CaPA, NHS Supply Chain who gave presentations on the role of Human Factors in delivering safety in the supply chain. Chris Frerk highlighted the fact that for medical devices, there is no safety and efficiency score system in the style of the NCAP system for cars.  He continued by explaining the science behind clinical human factors in patient safety, namely, to optimize performance by design, mitigating the potential to do the wrong thing. Mr Frerk pointed to clinical human factors’ acknowledgement by Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) and MHRA of its importance to patient safety matters. 

Collette Longstaffe argued for the importance of design of medical products to staff and patient safety as identified by CaPA, and the systems-wide need for medical products to meet the needs of end users. Ms Longstaffe explained the product essential specification development as a due diligence approach in procurement, the role of human factors and ergonomics in designing-out risks in medical devices and CaPA’s risk indicator and mitigation control to reduce the potential for error by design. She concluded by stressing the importance of a stakeholder focussed, systems wide approach to designing in safety.

The final session featured a presentation from Alison Venn of BD and Lindsay Keeley of the Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) on protecting patients and staff in perioperative care through better procurement and the application of evidence-based infection prevention and control measures. Lindsay Keeley began with a brief introduction to AfPP and to surgical site infections and their prevalence, noting that 60% of incidents are preventable, and an overview of current approaches to prevent their occurrence based on evidence-based guidance; product range management to foster standardisation in order to generate high quality and economically optimal products; and the role that procurement practices play in enabling this. Ms Keeley concluded by outlining some best practices in perioperative care such as the correct use of PPE; hospital environment hygiene; standard infection control precautions and sharps management. Alison Venn then spoke about the benefits of using the BD ChloraPrep skin antiseptic system in reducing surgical site infections.

Jonathan Hazan concluded the webinar by thanking speakers and attendees for their contributions.  

Presentation slides are available here.


The Safer Healthcare and Biosafety Network is supported by the following organisations.

  • UK HSA
  • Boston Scientific
  • Stryker
  • Unison
  • RCN
  • phs
  • NHS Wales
  • NHS Supply Chain
  • NHS Resolution
  • NHS Improvement
  • NHS England
  • NHS Employers
  • NHS Confederation
  • iosh
  • HSE
  • CQC
  • BMA
  • BDIA
  • BDA
  • ABHI