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10/12/2020 by Helen Lang

The demands of the pandemic have been felt throughout 2020 but the impact has been particularly severe on our health service. This is set to worsen as the winter months bring an increased demand for critical services.

For suppliers working directly with the NHS, it would be easy to assume that demand is high right now, but in reality, the situation is much more complex. With mounting pressure on healthcare services, the NHS will need to turn to the private sector for help and support, so suppliers must be ready.

At SAF, we know that finding capital has been a perennial problem, which is why flexible and creative funding solutions will be essential for those wanting to do business with the NHS in the coming months and years ahead.

The difficulty with funding

The complex processes surrounding healthcare funding can also leave Trusts with no way to replace ageing equipment, introduce new facilities or fund anything that is not considered an immediate threat to the running of a hospital. It’s clear that right now, treatments not related to COVID-19 have had to fall down the priority list, but while that happens the backlog continues to increase, presenting an ever-greater challenge.

Where this is the case, NHS Trusts need to be able to work with private sector firms to find alternative finance solutions. The option to work outside of pre-agreed capital budgets and plan better for the future must be on the table, otherwise, a quote or proposal runs the risk of being tied up in red tape with longer delays than may be necessary.

At a time when getting agreements over the line is more important than ever for suppliers, offering more than a standard capital purchase option can increase conversion rates and help to strengthen relationships with customers.

Finding flexibility for the future

When NHS Trusts know they need additional funding, they can and should be able to turn to the private sector. Capacity issues are only going to worsen as the pandemic continues and, with the UK’s ageing population well documented, private finance agreements can help to prepare hospitals for what’s to come.

Flexible finance solutions could act as a lifeline for Trusts that need additional facilities or medical equipment as soon as possible. Utilising these alternative funding methods is the best way to keep up with an influx of COVID and non-COVID related patients, while also making sure that the backlog of other procedures remains a high priority.

The importance of compliance through partnerships

Funded solutions are supplied by independent companies that sit on approved NHS frameworks, such as NHS Supply Chain, meaning they are fully compliant and understanding of NHS procurement procedures. Working with these approved providers helps to ensure the process is managed by trusted partners that are well-versed in public sector funding.

Finance providers, including SAF, can offer tailored creative solutions to suit a Trust’s individual needs. We can provide appropriately structured funding arrangements that amalgamate the cost of a new facility, along with equipment hire and ongoing maintenance costs, into one affordable monthly fee. This provides a cost-effective and timely solution to expand capacity.

Many procurement projects are delayed or even cancelled where a need exists, but capital is unavailable. Offering compliant alternatives to outright capital purchases can really support the NHS in delivering the things that are needed most and helping Trusts to plan longer term.

What next?

Put simply, more education and greater awareness are needed around the collaboration between the NHS and private sector in this area, because these flexible solutions will help support the capacity crisis.

There’s clearly a crucial role that funders can play in helping to tackle the problems. Our NHS needs all the support it can get to provide world-class care right now, and funders and suppliers must step up to the plate as soon as possible.

For more company updates from SAF, make sure you’re following us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Our Commercial Director, Philip Green, also explores this issue further in the next edition of Leasing Life magazine.