The Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers (SHLSLM) forum and exhibition got underway (2-3 May) at the Tankersley Manor, Barnsley. After a welcome by Society president John Gallagher, Ian Hargreaves, Laundry Solutions, chair and treasurer, SHLSM, (pictured) addressed the subject of ‘Procurement and Linen Services’.

He asked whether the NHS has learned anything from previous tenders, what are the main issues with tendering and, are specifications written in an unbiased manner? To the first point he said that “yes, trusts have learned lessons, but weren’t sharing them”. He added that specification can be a lengthy and frustrating process but admitted that using frameworks can help cut the time involved. He also said: “Specifications have to be fair (to both parties); standards achievable; and, the contract needs to offer value for money.”

The paper by Paul Ralston – 'Procurement and Linen Services – What do you need to know?’ – cleared up some procurement questions but raised others. Paul Ralston MCIPS is head of procurement for Rotherham and procurement lead Working Together Partnership Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, Regional lead in Yorkshire for the Health Care Supplies Association (HCSA), and National Stakeholder Group Regional chair of the Procurement Skills Development network for Yorkshire & Humber. As far as procurement in a cash-strapped NHS is concerned he used this analogy: “What you want and what you need are very different. I want an Aston Martin but don’t need it to get to work.”

Reg Ramsden, domestics and linen services manager, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and national officer, SHLSM, expounded on ‘KPIs – how to make them work for the customer of a laundry contract’.

A KPI is a quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organisation, employee or service and whether it is meeting agreed objectives and performance, he said. “It is an assessment that really needs to be made every day, getting data and knowing the provider is giving you what you need.

 KPI’s must be ‘SMART’:

• Specific

• Measurable

• Achievable – (if you work with provider you can make it work)

• Relevant

• Time phased.

Ron McLean, business development manager and Jim Goldthorpe, technical sales manager, MIP UK addressed delegates from the suppliers’ point of view. Their paper, ‘Procurement within Linen Services – ways in which suppliers could help the NHS’ concluded the proceedings for the first day.  The presentation will explored ‘Smart’ purchasing to help achieve the optimum price, quality v need, consistency of supply, standardisation, economies of scale, minimising cost and losses, managing regulations and introducing innovative products and solutions.

The forum followed a day of training designed for supervisors and managers wishing to develop their careers within linen services or for managers whose responsibilities already lie in that field.

• The second day’s content will be added to this report on Thursday 3 May.