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Speeding up contacts and responses within the NHS


We have managed to land a few contracts with NHS Trusts and PCTs. They like what we offer and have given all the signals of wanting to move things along HOWEVER compared with our private sector clients they seem to work at an absolutely snail's pace and trying to get them to meetings and agree simple things like diary dates is impossible!

Are we setting our expectation's too high? Or is there some way of working in this culture which we don't know about?

This has effects on timings, resources, cash flow revenue forecasts etc. If there is a way that anyone has found of mving things on apace we would love to hear from you - especially if you are in the NHS!
Simon Derry

3 Responses

  1. Welcome to the Public Sector
    I think it is a question of a different culture rather than just slowness. Within boundaries the NHS can be a great client and a challenging project.

    If they want you, then they often need to get approval from further up the management chain. On top of that they need to get another 2 quotes for the same project.

    We have found that the average time in decision making has been as long as a year in one case, shortest was 5 months to contracts being signed off. On both we didn’t get responses to our calls or emails (3) so wrote it off. We were then called out of the blue, asked for a start date and away we went. Contracts still in place 5 years on.

    What I would say is :

    1. Don’t worry about it, if you are getting good signals then let them know about other things you are doing if they haven’t been in touch. Keep in touch with them without being a pest. Let them know about special offers and limited opps you are running.

    2. If quoting put a order before X date on it and always make an upward adjustment for a late acceptance even if nominal.

    3. Do not rely on the Public Sector for more than 40% of your income. Budgets, people, objectives and plans change radically and often. Sort out payment arrangements in the contract and ask for a payment up front and monthly payments on X date by direct debit and stick to them.

    4. Do NOT proceed without both good contracts and operating/service level agreements in place.

    5. Include meetings, changes to ageed plan of rollout and project management into your costs plans and include them in your contracts. Allow for extra time and funds for meetings. Arrange a way of progress reporting which obviates the need for a monthly meeting.

    Good luck and keep marketing to other avenues. Cash flow in Trusts is well documented in the press and may be an inhibiting feature currently depending on where your Trust is located.

  2. NHS
    I’m both a training consultant with several NHS clients and also have over 15 years experience working in NHS HRD functions for both acute and PCT’s It’s difficult to come up with some strategies to help you without knowing more about the projects. In my experience training has to compete with many other priorities, and coupled with difficulties in releasing staff etc it rarely comes at the top of local NHS agendas. Currrently most PCT’s and many larger Acute Trusts are going through a period of restructure based on the national agenda to reduce the number of Trusts in order to improve efficiency and manage costs, so the pressure now more than ever is certainly affecting staff and senior management teams. Email me with more details and I’ll be pleased to help if I can

  3. Not a good message
    Can I suggest that instead of criticising the ‘snails pace’ of the NHS and it’s inability to achieve ‘simple things’ like arranging a meeting, that it would be more constructive to understand the complex, diverse and professional organisation that the NHS is.

    What you describe is a product of the NHS dealing with you, one supplier, and not a reflection of life and work in the NHS.

    I have worked in the NHS after 20 years private sector experience. Your perception is poorly founded, and you should not assume that your work with private sector is quicker and therefore better.


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