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NHS Supply Chain Bid Writing for Frameworks


Written by Chris Turner


Jan 27, 2023

The NHS spends over £30bn each year on goods and services. NHS Supply Chain manages the procurement requirement for NHS Trusts across England and Wales. They develop compliant procurement frameworks and catalogues, which enable NHS Trusts work to work with approved suppliers.

It receives 7.7 million orders each year across nearly 1000 NHS Supply Chain suppliers. As a result of the vast economies of scale NHS Supply Chains are targeted to achieve savings for their NHS customers.

We have been winning NHS Supply Chain frameworks and tenders for our clients ever since, thanks to our dedicated team of professional bid writers. We understand the requirements of the NHS Supply Chain, what they expect from bidders and how to draft high-quality and compliant bid responses.

Client feedback

“Donna and Maria were so helpful and professional from start to finish, highly recommend this company, used them twice for tenders and definitely will use them again. Thank you!” Laszlo Kohanyi

In this article, we wanted to highlight the benefits of the NHS Supply Chain to suppliers. To understand what a ‘framework’ is click this link to see our detailed overview.

Why become an NHS Chain supplier?

  • A single place to sell your healthcare products and services, which NHS Trusts are encouraged to use
  • Existing distribution centres managed by NHS Supply Chain
  • An ever-increasing requirement and spend
  • Established procurement procedures which can be utilised by both blue-chip organisations and SMEs.

NHS Supply Chain Frameworks – Bid Writing and Framework Compliance Reviews

In January 2023, Jacqui Rock, CEO of NHS England, stressed how procurement should not provide barriers to innovation, and how SMEs need to be able to get ‘their products through the door’. They are committed to working closer with suppliers to develop sustainable solutions, which is highly encouraging.

As bid writing experts, offering an outsourced bid solution, Thornton & Lowe has helped businesses win work on NHS Supply Chain frameworks. This has included advising on suitable NHS Supply Chain tender and framework opportunities, bid writing support and tender guidance. We also regularly help our clients secure contracts through NHS Supply Chain frameworks. We have developed some bid writing top tips, which can be found here, which will help you improve your required quality responses.

However, NHS Supply Chain bids can be different to most other frameworks and tenders into the likes of Central Government or Local Authorities. There is a focus on technical compliance to secure you place on the framework. While there is often less of a bid writing requirement, there is a substantial bid management project with a large number of compliance sections. With NHS Supply Chain frameworks, quite often we will be asked to review a draft bid and associated technical documents/ product sheets, checking for tender compliance and opportunities to improve the bid from our experience. This allows us to provide a bid consultancy and guidance to maximise your chances of success when bidding into NHS Supply Chain.

When bidding it is important you can create a compliant bid. A basic example is, committing to and evidencing compliance with their Supplier's Code of Conduct. Your tender submission will need to commit to their code of conduct which includes:

  • Ethical standards, such as promoting quality and diversity
  • Health and Safety
  • Business continuity planning
  • Anti-bribery
  • Environment.

NHS Supply Chain Framework Solutions

NHS Supply Chain manages its frameworks via 3 Category Towers:

  • Medical Consumables
  • Capital Equipment and Services
  • Non-Medical

The Medical Consumables Category Tower includes:

Ward-based consumables:

  • Single-use tourniquet framework
  • Blood pressure cuffs and support products framework
  • Suction consumables framework
  • Blood collection systems and blood lancets framework
  • Eternal feeding, bile bags and associated products framework
  • Electrodes, ultrasound gels, defibrillation and related consumables framework

Sterile intervention and associated consumables:

  • Pre-operative skin preparation framework
  • Single use personal protective equipment and medical protective consumables framework
  • Wound closure framework
  • Minimally invasive surgery framework
  • Surgical instruments framework
  • Tray wrap and sterilisation equipment framework

Infection control and wound care

  • Chemical wound debridement acidic gel framework
  • Reusable clinical waste containers framework
  • Patient dry wipes framework
  • Medical hollowware framework
  • Skin cleansing and disinfection framework
  • Skin disinfection and antimicrobial cleansing framework

Orthopaedics, trauma, spine and ophthalmology

  • Total orthopaedic solutions 2 framework
  • Complete ophthalmology solutions 2 framework

Rehabilitation, disabled services, women’s health and associated consumables

  • Urinary catheter adhesion inhibition system framework
  • Disposable and washable continence care and associated products framework
  • Stoma care and accessories framework
  • Urology, bowel and faecal management framework

Cardio-vascular, radiology, audiology and pain management

  • Audiological implantable devices and associated accessories (consumables, maintenance and repair) framework
  • Audiological equipment, services and related consumables framework
  • Hearing aids and custom ear moulds framework
  • Hearing aids batteries framework

The Capital Equipment and Services Category Tower includes:

Large diagnostic capital equipment including mobile and services

  • Operating (theatre and outpatient) microscopes framework
  • Neonatal equipment, adult, paediatric and neonatal phototherapy devices framework
  • Robotic medical equipment framework
  • Maintenance, repair and calibration of medical equipment framework
  • Finance solutions framework
  • Rigid endoscopy framework

Diagnostic, pathology and therapy technologies and services

  • Cardiac diagnostics equipment, technologies and related equipment and services framework
  • Angiography and hybrid theatre equipment framework
  • External defibrillation devices, resuscitation and simulation manikins framework

The Non Medical Category Tower includes:

Office solutions

  • Printed stationary framework
  • Batteries, lighting, tools and facilities management consumables framework
  • Office and outdoor furniture framework
  • Print marketplace framework
  • Office supplies framework
  • Printable patient identification wristbands and associated accessories framework


  • Fresh Food DPS (continually open to new suppliers)
  • Ambient food framework
  • Multi temperature food solutions framework
  • Hot beverages and vending consumables framework
  • Cold beverages, confectionery and snacks framework
  • Food To Go framework

Hotel services

  • National ambulance uniforms and general workwear framework
  • Environmental decontamination framework
  • Disposable cubicle, shower and window curtains framework
  • Cleaning supplies, equipment and associated products framework
  • Chlorine tablets, granules and dilution vessels framework
  • Medical healthcare furniture framework.

The NHS Supply Chain frameworks noted above are only examples. For the full list of NHS frameworks please click here.

NHS Supply Chain use both DPS and framework agreements to bring their buyers and suppliers together. We have produced an article covering how a DPS is different to a framework, which can be found by clicking here. One of the key benefits to suppliers is that they are continually open to new suppliers, compared to a framework which is typically in place for 4 years with a specific 6 – 8 week window for suppliers to bid.

Speak to a Bid Writing Expert

How does an NHS Supply Chain Framework work?

Like any framework or tender, you will need to find a suitable opportunity and follow the instructions on how to bid. For their frameworks and DPS opportunities, NHS Supply Chain use a Jaggaer procurement portal, which can be accessed via this link. You can register on their portal to view live tender opportunities. You then express interest and access the tender pack. If you require support with the tender we will require these documents in order to provide a quote for bid management and guidance.

For more tendering opportunities take a look at our comprehensive and free tender alert software, covering UK and Europe, Tender Pipeline. This will include NHS Supply Chain tenders and frameworks.

At Thornton & Lowe as well as offering an outsourced bid writing and bid management solution we also provide bid writing training courses across the UK. For further details on our bid writing training workshops click here.

Speak to a Bid Writing Expert

Bid Writing client feedback:

"Thornton & Lowe have been supporting us since August 2013. They have provided a high level of proactive, personable and focused bid & tender support. Thornton & Lowe have provided us with comprehensive bid strategy advice, supported by a suite of bespoke documentation. They have provided us with a solid grounding in terms of our own bid strategy, the bid process and advice on bid management services" - St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

To view feedback from our existing clients, click here.

Our case studies can be found here, which detail what we have helped our clients achieve.

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