This theme looks at how procurement by health sector organisations can be used to support the development of local small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) within each partner region. Procurement means getting something. A basic challenge for the health sector is to consider this what are we trying to obtain? The obvious answer is that the health sector needs to obtain supplies (clinical and non-clinical) and services (such as cleaning, consulting, financial services). Sometimes, an organisation says that what they want is to obtain an outcome such as waste minimisation. It is up to the contractor to suggest how. For the partners in Health ClusterNET, when we refer to procurement, we mean all the ways the health sector obtains goods and services for itself and the constituency it serves. Other words that are sometimes used include purchasing, public service delivery, back office spending, and frontline services.
Our experience suggests that a sustainable approach to procurement has three elements (i) exploring the potential for increasing the proportion of goods and services that are purchased locally within the region or community (ii) working with local businesses to enhance their technical capability to compete in return for advances in health & safety at work, (iii) widening the definition of ‘value’ in purchasing to embrace recyclable benefits such as environmental protection, social cohesion, enhancing local competitiveness and promoting community regeneration. In turn this will contribute to sustainable and competitive economic growth, helping local businesses to become competitive in wider markets.
The Health ClusterNet Interreg IIIC operation by engaging stakeholders, exchanging experience, and applying the generated new knowledge explored how the health sector can contribute to regional development through local procurement. Tfhe learning is summarized in a thematic report and an Agenda.
Another powerful case for the role of local procurement is made in a report Public Spending Public Benefit by the new economics foundation. Health ClusterNET co-sponsored the publication of this report.