It even made Radio 4 this morning, the publication of a Public Accounts Committee report on managing high value capital procurement in the NHS in England - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmpubacc/1469/146902.htm
For those readers who don't want to plough through the PAC deliberations - the baseline is that when it comes to scanners and other high value equipment, "the procurement and management [of high value equipment] is fragmented and uncoordinated, leading to wasted resources and variable standards of service". Now where have I heard this before??
The interesting thing about the PAC report is that it is not just a cost issue, but also one which creates variations in patient service and the quality of care.
In the summary we read - Trusts have three main ways to purchase high value equipment; by dealing directly with suppliers; through framework agreements, managed by NHS Supply Chain; or by joining up with other trusts in collaborative purchasing agreements. We were told that framework agreements are generally a more efficient way to purchase one-off equipment orders yet one in five of these machines are bought boutside framework agreements and the Department has no power to mandate trusts to use them".
Substitute the word Council for Trust and you get the picture? There is yet another warning to English local government here - start taking an interest in commissioning and procurement before someone else in Whitehall beats you to it!!!