Want to win business with the NHS?

The NHS is the largest single healthcare delivery organisation in the world. It’s also the world’s 5th largest employer behind the US Department of Defence, China’s People Liberation Army, Wal-Mart and McDonalds!

So it constitutes a major opportunity for UK companies. However, trying to win business in the NHS can be a confusing process for SMEs… by following the following procurement routes you will give yourself the best chance of success:


First things first!


Register with Contracts Finder and Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) for alerts relevant to your business area.

  • Contracts Finder shows all public sector tenders with a value of more than £10,000. It is automatically updated every weekday night with new notices published on TED.
  • TED is the online version of the Official Journal of the European Union.

However, these websites are often hard to navigate… So I’d also recommend using the following procurement routes:


NHS Supply Chain

NHS LPP (London Procurement Partnership)


East of England Collaborative NHS Procurement Hub

South of England Procurement Services

NHS National Procurement for Scotland


Other routes to market

There are a number of routes which enable you to bring your product to the attention of NHS buyers:

1. Contact the 15 Academic Health Science Networks.

These 15 bodies have the following core objectives to help SME’s succeed:

  • Speed up adoption of innovation into practice to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience
  • Support the identification and more rapid spread of research and innovation at pace and scale to improve patient care and local population health.
  • Create wealth through co-development, testing, evaluation and early adoption and spread of new products and services.

Contacts for all 15 AHSNs across the country can be found online.


2. Contact the NHS Innovation Hubs

There are seven NHS Innovations Hubs across the country, whose role is to accelerate the development and uptake of innovative medical technology products and services that improve the quality of healthcare delivery.

You can find links to all the hubs online.


3. Review the DH action plan

The action plan is published on the DH website.

These are some of the initiatives being undertaken by the DH:

  • Again, ensure you review Contracts Finder: this is where all procurement opportunities and pipelines of future DH activity are advertised and flagged where they are suitable for SMEs; it also encourages consortia bids where appropriate, and carries information on all supplier engagement workshops.
  • Use the dedicated mailbox for prospective suppliers and request one-to-one discussions with the DH: helpdesk@dh.gsi.gov.uk– SME providers are to include ‘SME Enquiry’ in the subject line when emailing the Supplier Helpdesk.
  • Enquire about becoming part of the group of SME champions being established by the DH to work with the ALB community (using the dedicated mailbox for this, too).


4. Attend the annual Healthcare Innovation Expo

This is the forum and showcase for would-be suppliers to the NHS. You can find out more at the organisers’ website.


5. Sub-contracting

If there are no relevant tender opportunities currently available for your area of business, it may be possible for you to sub-contract your services to suppliers on existing arrangements. If this is of interest please contact the relevant supplier directly.


6. Constructionline 

Suppliers involved in the construction industry should use Constructionline, a government-owned certification service for construction-related contractors, consultants and materials suppliers. It has been developed to save the industry millions of pounds by cutting the amount of duplication in the pre-qualification process.


7. Register on the Government eMarketplace 

This is an online marketplace providing customers with a request for quote service for low value, less complex purchases. It enables you to advertise your capability to supply products or services on a national or regional basis without the need to go through a tender process. Any supplier can register on the eMarketplace but registration alone does not mean you are a public sector supplier.

If you want some support navigating this complicated landscape, please drop me a line at SME Bidder to discuss further.



Daniel McIlwaine – Daniel.mcilwaine@smebidder.com

Daniel is SME Bidder’s resident healthcare procurement expert, with 10 years of business development experience selling into the NHS. During this time he has worked for Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Liaison – across capital, consumable and service markets, achieving millions of pounds in contract wins.

In his role for SME Bidder, Daniel uses his commercial expertise to ensure SMEs can have the best chance of achieving contract awards in the increasingly competitive NHS landscape. Get in touch for any general bid/tender enquiries and to start your journey towards winning more business.