With the Covid-19 pandemic growing as a global threat, the UK Government faced an unprecedented situation which required an emergency response. This included breaking the chain of transmission through largescale testing and contract tracing ahead of the upcoming winter surge of coronavirus cases. As part of the government’s first wave of responses to Covid-19, Baringa were first on call to support the programme. With no blueprint, and amidst huge supply chain disruption, the government needed us to set up an auditable commercial procurement function, and get centres set up to scale up testing capacity as quickly as possible.
We defined procurement processes and governance for a £bn portfolio
Coming into the programme, emergency buying was the understandable default. The government knew this was unsustainable. Baringa were deployed to build and run the commercial function of NHS Test & Trace. We defined a procurement approvals process and put the right governance in place to set up critical nationwide testing infrastructure. Contact centres, a mega lab and school and workplace testing were just the start. Part of our role included the management of part of the £bn portfolio. This included commercial delivery across professional services, research and the support services around the NHS COVID-19 app. We also played an integral role in building partnerships across government and the NHS to support delivery.
Under the most intense public and media scrutiny, this programme was as high pressure as anyone could imagine. Recognising the toll this might take on teams, we put wellbeing and compassion at the forefront – rotating people in and out of roles to recover, sharing strains across our joint teams, and shining a light on the real progress we were making together. To deliver results at record pace, we ruthlessly prioritised tasks, communicated widely, and instilled a can-do attitude so that everyone knew exactly what needed to be done when. We mentored and brought our civil servant colleagues up to speed, running lunch-and-learn and coaching sessions to enable the fastest transition to an internal team that we could.
Substantial savings, and a dynamic new public health body - UKHSA
Between July 2020 and February 2022, we set up, led and handed over core NHS Test & Trace Commercial teams, including the operations function and the Professional Services and Digital Tech Categories, to civil servant teams to build today’s UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency). Together, we secured optimal commercial terms and put in place flexible and transparent modern contracts, saving the government £M’s over 18-months. We avoided any downtime in COVID-19 technology services and delivered critical infrastructure and research - touching the lives of everyone in the nation during a truly historical, one-of-a-kind crisis.
"The Baringa team played a critical role in delivering NHS Test & Trace along with colleagues across government. They really rolled their sleeves up, got the job done and supported us in becoming a world class commercial organisation. Your performance and the support you offer your team and wider colleagues is an excellent example of the strong values you have as an organisation."
Commercial Director Sourcing and Delivery, NHS Test & Trace
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