Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Medicines procurement

The price is right

Organisation and delegation are essential skills in a procurement role.

Lead procurement pharmacist Zeinab Sulaiman (pictured) spends her time managing the effects of medicines contract changes and holding supply managers to account

Lead procurement pharmacist Zeinab Sulaiman spends her time managing the effects of medicines contract changes and holding supply managers to account. She is currently completing her diploma in procurement and supply.

What is your current role and how did you get there?

I work as the lead pharmacist for procurement and distribution at Moorfields Eye Hospital Foundation Trust (MEHFT). I did my preregistration training at MEHFT and then worked as the project support pharmacist from 2012, which involved looking at cost-saving schemes across the trust and ensuring good procurement practice was being implemented. Good procurement means making strategic sourcing decisions about medicines, rather than making ad-hoc purchases in response to individual user requests.

I slowly became familiar with the set standards and common procurement practices within the public sector, learning specifically about the various aspects of pharmacy procurement. This equipped me with the skills and expertise I needed to lead the pharmacy procurement department within MEHFT, a role that I took on in 2014. I have not looked back since taking the job — I learn something new every day and have the opportunity to share what I learn with the close network of other procurement professionals across the NHS region.

What training does your role require?

I applied for a sponsorship programme from the Procurement and Distribution Interest Group (PDIG) of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, which was sponsoring selected pharmacy staff to undertake formal procurement qualifications. I secured the sponsorship and commenced my three-year diploma in procurement and supply from Chamber Business Training at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) in 2013. I am now close to becoming a member of CIPS, or a MCIPS registered professional, which means that I will have achieved the internationally recognised gold standard in procurement.

What does a typical day in your role involve?

A typical day starts with a freshly brewed cup of coffee from one of the independent coffee shops around Shoreditch in London.

I then plan ahead for any meetings I have that day. I often meet with the account managers of our main suppliers to discuss supplier performance and adherence to contractual agreements.

I also spend a lot of time meeting with the internal stakeholders to discuss various saving opportunities that may affect their specific services. For example, if there is a product switch that will affect the theatre department, I meet with lead staff to discuss the possible benefits and implications of the switch and answer any questions they may have.

My role also involves working closely with a number of senior staff in pharmacy distribution who carry out the other stages of the procurement cycle, including a purchasing assistant and an invoice manager. We value the importance of teamwork and liaise closely to ensure we understand the latest changes in procurement and can communicate them across the department to allow maximum benefits in daily practice. For example, if we have a new contract in place that I negotiated, I need to ensure the purchasing assistant and the invoice manager are aware of the new pricing agreements.

I work closely with the formulary pharmacist to ensure the formulary decisions are in line with the current contracts that are in place and that sound procurement decisions are made in line with formulary changes.

What do you enjoy most about your role and what difficulties are you facing?

Working as a procurement pharmacist in a trust with over 20 satellite sites is often intense and requires hard work and organisation skills. I find this thrilling and enjoy being kept on my toes. Multi-tasking can be a challenge when working in such a busy and demanding environment and I often need to rely on several calendars to help me stay organised. Learning to allocate an appropriate length of time to each task and to delegate particular tasks are essential.

On account of the current financial situation affecting the NHS, all public sector procurement professionals are required to work with a tight budget and ensure that taxpayers’ money is used efficiently while maximising the benefits achieved from the resources. I work hard to develop partnerships with other healthcare professionals and suppliers to ensure that the best value is delivered and that patients are receiving the best possible clinical care. The balance is difficult to maintain but the challenge is enjoyable.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20069055

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • International Research in Healthcare

    International Research in Healthcare

    Guidance for students or researchers undertaking a multi-centre research project in health services, medicines use and professional practice.

    £38.00Buy now
  • Drugs in Use

    Drugs in Use

    Optimise drug therapy for your patients. These case studies help you bridge the gap between theoretical medicines knowledge and practical applications.

    £43.00Buy now
  • Pharmaceutical Toxicology

    Pharmaceutical Toxicology

    Explains the methodology and requirements of pre-clinical safety assessments of new medicines. Includes registration requirements and pharmacovigilance.

    £40.00Buy now
  • Injectable Drugs Guide

    Injectable Drugs Guide

    A user friendly, single point of reference for healthcare professionals in the safe and effective administration of injectable medicines.

    £54.00Buy now
  • Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference

    Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference

    Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference provides reliable, unbiased and evaluated information on drugs and medicines used throughout the world.

    £570.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Lead procurement pharmacist Zeinab Sulaiman (pictured) spends her time managing the effects of medicines contract changes and holding supply managers to account

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.