By Mark Pownall
Practices can save up to £10,000 a year on their expenses by exploiting the collective buying clout of GPs, according to the latest, and biggest, addition to a consortium of LMCs.
London’s 24 individual LMCs, representing 6,000 GPs, have joined the LMC Buying Group Federation, considerably boosting its negotiating hand in deals with suppliers. The federation, which already represents 15 LMCs outside London, now covers more than 3,000 practices.
‘The more practices that join, the better the deals they can make because there is more negotiating power,’ a Londonwide LMCs spokesperson said. ‘The response so far from practices has been very good.’
‘Practices all over London, and the rest of the UK, are often buying the same regular supplies and services but from different suppliers and that’s just not economical.’
Londonwide LMCs say practices can expect to save £900 – £2,000 on stationery and office supplies; £1,000 – £2,750 on medical consumables and £500 – £5,000 on locum insurance. The scheme also covers flu and travel vaccines, car buying and web design and online services.
After successive years of no increase in core NHS income – and little prospect of anything significant the other side of the election – getting the best deal possible from suppliers is likely to be important for practices to achieve the best possible net income.
Individual LMCs have long had their own buying plans, but the national federation, led by Nottinghamshire LMC, was launched last year. The schemes are free to all practices up to date with their LMC levies.
Chris Locke, chief negotiator for LMCs Buying Group federation and chief executive of Nottinghamshire LMC, said: ‘The addition of the London LMCs to the buying federation will undoubtedly help in our negotiations with suppliers to get practices the best deal. We now have about 3,300 practices in the scheme, and suppliers are keen to access such a big market which is we why we are able to get such heavy discounts.’
‘The more GPs who do switch suppliers to the ones we recommend, the more valuable a client group GP practices become, and the keener they will be to give a good deal next time.’
Dr Michelle Drage joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs said: ‘Practices will continue to be at the sharp end of a tough financial climate within the NHS and this means they have to look hard at their costs. Their membership of the group offers some compensation.’
How buying clout brings savings: An example from a Mansfield practice