Selling to the NHS presents your company with an opportunity to sell its products and services to one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy.

In a market which is more concerned with delivery over price and which places a high value on innovation, the way to sell your product or service best is to make a strong business case for it in all your approaches to buyers.

How does your product or service fit into the wider picture? How does it improve patient safety or the patient experience? How does it improve healthcare outcomes? How does it support the staff delivering the services?

One of the most important parts in pitching your product or service is to demonstrate how it overcomes challenges in areas like IT strategy, technology, and more. Particularly important is understanding and explaining what operational or healthcare outcome a particular problem has in your sales and marketing approaches so that buyers appreciate how what you sell will be used in the field.

Show the evidence base behind any claims you make and, if you can, show how it fits into NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

Work with more Than Words to overcome the challenges and unlock the opportunity to sell to individual NHS organisations with direct marketing.

On this page, we’ll cover:

  • why you should invest your time and resources selling to the NHS
  • how the NHS is organised,
  • what the NHS supply chain is,
  • NHS procurement in England,
  • how to find the right people to market to,
  • successful direct marketing to the NHS, and
  • working with More Than Words.

To speak to one of our account managers with experience marketing to the NHS, please contact us on 0330 010 3495 or you can click here to email our direct marketing team.

Why take advantage of the opportunity to sell to the NHS?

In an average 24hr period, it deals with over 650,000 patients.

It’s the world’s fifth largest employer with over 1.5 million members of staff and around 10% of the country’s earnings are spent on it every year through taxation.

The UK National Health Service spends over £27bn a year on goods and services.

Not only does selling to the NHS offer tremendous business opportunities to companies but the supplies and services delivered to the NHS by the companies it purchases from makes a significant different to health and wellbeing outcomes of citizens in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Underlying the procurement process of the NHS are the following four purchasing rules:

  • delivery of world-class patient care,
  • delivery of value to the taxpayer,
  • support for health-based innovation (technology- and non-technology based), and
  • economic growth.

The organisation of the NHS

There are four separate NHS services in the UK – NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, NHS Northern Ireland and NHS England.

In England, the current NHS structure is:

  • 10 ambulance trusts (including 5 foundation trusts)
  • 135 acute trusts
  • 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and 6 Academic Health Science Centres supporting research, innovation and adoption
  • 200+ CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Group)
  • 35 community providers
  • 54 mental health trusts (including 42 foundation trusts)
  • 7,454 GP practices
  • 853 for-profit and not-for-profit independent sector organisations, providing care to NHS patients from 7,331 locations

In Scotland, the current NHS structure is:

  • 1,000+ GP practices
  • 14 Territorial Health Boards supported by 7 ‘Special’ Health Boards
  • 300+ hospitals
  • 32 Health and Social Care Partnerships (NHS and local authority)

In Wales, the current NHS structure is:

  • 100+ hospitals
  • 3 Trusts providing pan-Wales services
  • 440 GP practices
  • 7 local health boards

In Northern Ireland, the current NHS structure is:

  • 1 national ambulance service
  • 340 GP practices+
  • 40 hospitals
  • 5 health and social care (HSC) Trusts
  • 5 local commissioning groups

NHS procurement in England

Following a two-year phase in period, the Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL) went into operation on 1 April 2018 to implement what had been known prior as the Future Operating Model of the Procurement Transformation Programme.

The two aims of SCCL are to:

  • achieve maximum cost-efficiency in NHS procurement through the joint buying power of the many organisations which make up the service and:
  • through the creation of individual procurement towers, make it easier for customers (i.e. individual NHS organisations) to access suppliers offering medical products/services, non-medical products/services, and products/services pertaining to capital expenditure projects.

When procuring supplies or services for the NHS, the primary considerations must be that the purchase represents value for money and that it meets the Business Plan targets set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Five ways to sell to NHS England

There are five ways of selling to the NHS:

  • direct sales to a decision maker within an NHS trust or primary care organisation,
  • via the NHS Supply Chain,
  • via collaborative purchasing agreements,
  • via national framework collaborations and contracts, and
  • via NHS government tenders and contracts.

Selling direct to an NHS trust or primary care organisation

An NHS authority or trust (also referred to as a healthcare provider) can make their own purchasing decisions. Included within this are doctors’ surgeries and private care homes.

If you take this approach, you need to identify the right contacts within the organisation – they are generally the finance team, the procurement team, and the clinicians.

More Than Words’ speciality in helping our clients sell to the NHS is direct sales to trusts and primary care organisations. We’ll cover more on our services below.

Selling via the NHS Supply Chain

40% of all NHS spending on capital equipment, high value healthcare consumables, common goods, and everyday hospital consumables is done via the Supply Chain (NHSSC). The goal is to raise that to 80% in the coming years.

Suppliers should contact the procurement tower whose products and services relate to the following categories:

Expenditure Category Procurement Tower Operator
Ward based consumables Medical products DHL Supply Chain Ltd
Sterile based intervention equipment and associated consumables Medical products NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership (CPP)
Infection control and wound care Medical products DHL Supply Chain Ltd
Orthopaedics, trauma and spine, opthalmology Medical products NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership (CPP)
Rehabilitation, disabled services, women’s health and associated
consumables
Medical products NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership (CPP)
Cardiovascular, radiology, audiology and pain management Medical products Health Solutions Team Ltd
Large diagnostic, capital devices including mobile and consumables Capital expenditure DHL Supply Chain Ltd
Diagnostic equipment and consumables Capital expenditure Akeso and Company Ltd
Office Solutions Non-medical spending Crown Commercial Service (CCS)
Food Non-medical spending Foodbuy
NHS Hotel Services Non-medical spending NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative

By partnering with these providers, one of the main benefits if that all NHS buyers will have access to your products and services via online catalogues. However, to appear in a provider’s guide, you’ll have to make what you sell stand out against a wide variety of competing products and services as well as having to still apply for contracts via the tending process.

Selling via collaborative purchasing agreements

More local NHS organisations are partnering to create regional purchasing arrangements. The reason for this is that, in addition to benefiting from bulk buying opportunities, a significant amount of duplicated work can be removed from each organisation within the partnership.

Four new procurement hubs have evolved from this process and they operate three of the new NHSSC towers –

  • rehabilitation, disabled services, women’s health and associated consumables
  • orthopaedics, trauma and spine, and ophthalmology, and
  • sterile intervention equipment and associated consumables.

There are also two procurement confederations and alliances which have formed in recent years through which NHS organisations collaborate – the Shelford Group and NHS Peninsula Purchasing and Supply Alliance.

Selling via NHS national framework collaborations and contracts

On occasion, groups of suppliers submit collaborative purchasing contracts to NHS organisations and trusts and work carried out under the contract is carried out at a given price.

The first and most important tender stage needs to be completed only once and NHS buyers can access a database of the collaborating suppliers to find new suppliers. For SMEs, national framework collaborations can provide greater visibility to NHS buyers as well as aiding in gaining an understanding of how procurement works in general within the Health Service.

Selling via NHS government tenders and contracts

For orders of suppliers and services worth more than £118,133 (or £4,551,413 for works in the Supplement to the Official Journals of the European Union), NHS organisations issues tenders.

How do you find the right people to approach?

Drawing for our extensive UK public sector database, we can put you in touch with the following leaders and decision makers within the following types of healthcare organisations across the country.

Our NHS supply chain marketing database contains the following contact information:

Our list of NHS consultants contains:

  • 51,990 named consultants across 2,573 sites and 237 NHS organisations,
  • 51,990 postal addresses,
  • 22,874 direct email addresses, and
  • 16,116 NHS consultant phone numbers (and 51,990 switchboard numbers).

On our doctors’ database we have:

  • 8,829 general practice records
  • 36,280 GP contact names,
  • 6,256 telephone numbers, and
  • 8,676 direct GP email addresses (plus 2,229 organisational email addresses)

On our list of care homes, we have the following information:

  • 21,437 nursing homes, residential care homes, and rest & retirement homes
  • 9,480 care home emails (including nursing home emails and residential home emails)
  • 21,003 contact names

When you call, let us know more about your company, what you want to sell to the NHS, and the benefits your products and services deliver.

Direct marketing to NHS buyers and leaders

Email marketing

One cost-effective way for SMEs to put their business case to NHS buyers is by email marketing. For any prospective new suppliers introducing their product or service to the Health Service, email marketing campaigns allow you to do so at the lowest cost with the highest average returns.

Target each NHS buyer at their own personalised email address to demonstrate your product or service and stimulate interest.

Don’t have the email broadcast technology or know-how within your company to send campaigns to prospective customers? Ask us about our managed email marketing campaigns to the public sector.

With our managed service, we take away from you the many challenges of running a successful email broadcast – use our experience to hit buyer’s inboxes and our designers & copywriters to create successful email campaigns for you.

Telemarketing

The most popular route for the SMEs and other companies which use us to build a presence as a supplier within the NHS is telemarketing.

With telemarketing, you build a two-way relationship with each NHS buyer. On each call, we can identify whether an NHS organisation is experiencing a problem which your product or service could solve, whether your technology or system would make service delivery smoother, and so on.

Whatever questions you want us to ask when we’re speaking with leaders and buyers with, let us know. By asking a decision maker the right set of questions, we’ll uncover an opportunity for your business to become a new supplier. We listen carefully to what each decision maker says to us looking to discover where new partnerships between your company and the NHS can be forged.

If you don’t have your own telesales team, please ask us about our outsourced telemarketing campaigns to the public sector. We’ll select the team member with the greatest experience in selling the types of products and services you offer to work on your campaign.

Direct mail marketing

Use direct mail marketing to find new customers in the NHS for your product or service. According to the UK Data and Marketing Association, postal marketing achieves a response rate of 4.4%.

In the same survey, the DMA found that companies selling using catalogues achieved a response rate of 4.26%.

Want to buy the data only?

On all campaigns, whether you carry out the marketing campaigns or we do it on your behalf, you can use the data for 12 months after purchase.

In addition to the support you receive from your account manager, you’ll also receive support from our technical and advertising sales teams.

Selling to the NHS – working with More Than Words

More Than Words, in association with its media partner, maintains an extensive database of NHS contacts at seven different levels of seniority/management function.

Not only can we help you find the right buyers to speak to but we can help you make the business case for your products and services.

To speak with one of our business development about selling direct to NHS trusts or primary care organisations, please contact us on 0330 010 3495 or you can click here to email our direct marketing team.

More Than Words note – we offer further services to help your company with marketing to the NHS. Please click for our list of care homes, domiciliary care database, list of NHS consultantslist of doctors’ surgerieslist of practice managers’ email addressesNHS email databaseNHS procurement contact list, and list of dentists’ surgeries.

Call 0330 010 3495

Selling to the NHS with More Than Words

To find out more, please call us on 0330 010 8300, click here to email us, or fill in the form and we’ll get back to you.