At the start of the year, I received an email from Inside Government about an NHS Procurement Conference and was hovering over the delete button when I realised that it wasn’t a mailshot but an invitation to speak. My first thoughts were to tell them that they had the wrong person, that I’m a librarian and know very little about NHS procurement. Once I’d calmed down and read their proposal I guessed that they must have seen either my case study on the MAP toolkit about working with our Trust Nursing Supplies Group, or our Sally Hernando Award (2011) “Clinical Librarian produces evidence summaries to underpin Trust procurement decisions to help save £100,000”.
Initially, I hoped to present alongside our Trust Head of Procurement as I’d been inspired by the persuasiveness of Victoria Treadway’s collaborative presentations with Dr Girendra Sadera at Wirral. Unfortunately, he was not able to attend on the date in question, so I decided to bite the bullet and present alone. As a speaker the conference fees were covered and HCLU kindly offered to support my travel arrangements to London, so there was nothing holding me back. I found the prospect of speaking to procurement professionals daunting; I am comfortable presenting to library and information colleagues and happy to stand up in front of staff within my own organisation, but this was a different ball game.
I wanted the presentation to highlight my role within the Supplies Group, whilst being clear that I was only part of the process and not providing the definitive answer. The reason the project has been so successful at achieving savings within our Trust is the collaborative approach to decision making. It is clinician led, which coupled with expertise in synthesising the evidence and procurement staff knowledge about purchasing issues has saved the trust in excess of £600,000 over 3 years. I obtained some examples of the highest areas of savings so that I could demonstrate key product changes which have had the highest impact. I checked that trust Procurement Team were happy with my presentation and set off to London.
Attendees on the day included a mix of chief executives, finance directors, heads of procurement, members of CCGS, purchasing and supply managers, and heads of innovation from the NHS, wider health sector, central government, and private sector. I think it is safe to say that I was the only librarian in attendance and people seemed surprised to see me on the bill alongside Beth Loudon, NHS Procurement Programme Lead (Dept of Health) and Stephen Browning, Head of Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and Smart, Technology Strategy Board and others.
I have to say that I was quite nervous presenting but overall I was pleased with the response on the day and feedback since. The presentation evaluations were reassuring with ratings of 58.33% Good and 41.67% Excellent with one attendee stating that “I found Tracey Pratchett’s presentation insightful because it highlights achievements through collaborative working”. I am definitely glad that I bit the bullet and attended a non-librarian conference as a guest speaker – I would highly recommend it. One of the key things for me was that it raised the profile of the librarian/information role with this group of high profile professionals at a national level. A number of people asked me whether they have access to librarian support in their trusts and I said I would find out for them. It has also generated contacts and discussions about new ways of working which were not anticipated at the time.
Recommendations for practice:
- Get your work on the net by submitting a case study to the MAP toolkit – you don’t know where it will lead!
- Don’t let any opportunity go by to talk about your work, it could open unforeseen doors
- Be an advocate for the profession, don’t just focus on local wins
- Apply to speak at non-librarian conferences about your work and look for financial support from outside your organisation (HCLU, SHaLL etc)
- Be confident that you have something worthwhile to offer (I am still working on this one!)
Contact Tracey Pratchett, Clinical Librarian (01524) 516224 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to write a case study for the MAP toolkit.
Inside Government (2013) NHS Procurement 2013: Delivering Quality, Innovation and Value Available at: http://www.insidegovernment.co.uk/event-details/nhs-procurement/122/#agenda
MAP Toolkit (2013) Case studies Available at: http://lihnn.whisinternet.org/wiki/MAP.Portfolio-of-case-studies.ashx
Sally Hernando Award (2011) Clinical Librarian produces evidence summaries to underpin Trust procurement decisions to help save £100,000 Available at: http://www.libraryservices.nhs.uk/document_uploads/LQAF/NW_Product_UHMB1_Procurement_Supplies_2011.doc
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS FT (2010) Clinical Librarian Service Available at: http://www.whnt.nhs.uk/hrod/development/integratedlibraryservice/clinicallibrarianservice/