Improving the lives of people in our places through place-based procurement


Place-based procurement is a strategic approach that provides benefits for healthcare systems, value for the taxpayer and serves as a catalyst for economic development. Stuart Watkins, Health Business Manager at Crown Commercial Service explains the importance of place-based procurement and offers key considerations for developing successful policies.

Providing a good quality and healthy life for people that live in the communities that make up our places is at the centre of public service provision.

Place-based procurement is about understanding the issues, interconnections and relationships in a place and coordinating commercial action and investment to improve the quality of life for people.

Beyond health outcomes, place-based procurement has the power to shape the broader landscape by encompassing social value, carbon neutrality, interoperability and sustainable economic benefits.

All the places that make up our diverse communities across the United Kingdom will have different health and social care models to meet their specific local needs. This gives rise to both Integrated Care System (ICS) place-based procurement challenges and opportunities.

The benefits of place-based procurement

There are several benefits that can be achieved through strategic place-based procurement, including:

  • Efficiency and cost savings: standardisation and place-based Cost Improvement Programmes (CIPs) of clinical pathways ensure the best possible outcomes for patients, place-based partnerships and the taxpayer.
  • Patient and community centred care: investing in place-based digital health services ensures the provision of accessible, patient-centred care at home or in other community settings.
  • Tackling health inequalities head-on: place-based procurement strategies directly address disparities by aggregating social value and sustainability requirements and helping ICSs improve access, outcomes and experiences.
  • Economic development through pricurement: the intentional support of local businesses and the aggregation of sustainability requirements not only support economic growth but also contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

Five considerations for your integrated care boards’s place-based procurement policy

While each region will have different strategies based on its unique goals and circumstances, the following place-based procurement strategies are helpful approaches for all ICSs to consider.

Choosing national procurement aggregation initiatives: A simple way for ICSs to save costs and improve procurement efficiency is through collective buying. When ICSs combine their own buying needs with those of other organisations across the public sector, they can tap into savings not possible when buying individually. CCS runs ongoing aggregation programmes for goods and services including IT hardware, mobile services, software licences and utilities. Joining an aggregation enables ICSs and place committees to combine local requirements with other ICSs nationally, ensuring economic value and favourable terms.

Regional collaboration through purchasing and innovation: Working together with regional NHS trusts, schools, science networks and universities helps develop and procure innovation. These contracts allow a lead group, or authority, to source goods and services for everyone within the ICS. This means that economies of scale can be achieved.  

Engaging communities / co-designing strategic projects: Place committees and integrated care boards regularly connect with local communities and interest groups. This makes it straightforward to turn these localised stakeholder engagements into strategic procurement projects that have a positive influence on places, like establishing a new acute hospital. 

Harnessing data-led procurement: ICSs are investing in data analytics to inform procurement decisions and enable them to secure sustainable procurement value.  

We understand that this is a critical area for the NHS. It is the foundation of developing an efficient, effective and economic commercial strategy, both nationally and locally. In this context, CCS has provided £12.8 million of funding over three financial years to support the rollout of the Atamis e-commerce system. 69 per cent of NHS organisations are already signed up, with a target of 90 per cent by 2025.  

Empowering local small and medium enterprises: Prioritising local SMEs aligns with ICS goals, supporting community growth. This creates business opportunities and  supports local development, as well as reducing environmental effects from distant supply chains. 

How CCS can help

At CCS, we’re committed to collaborating with our colleagues across the public sector to revolutionise health and social care, and improve the lives of UK citizens.

As the largest public procurement organisation in the UK, our scale allows us to access multiple savings and provide real benefits for customers.

Think of CCS as a collaborative partner. Our experts can help you successfully navigate the complexities of place-based procurement and achieve transformative healthcare outcomes.

Download our full white paper

Our latest white paper, ‘Place-based procurement strategies for Integrated Care Systems’, aims to enable ICSs to optimise every pound spent, address their communities’ unique needs and maximise the health and wealth of the regions they serve. You can download the guide from the CCS website.