Company Background

The initial tender started with The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. UHB comprises of two main hospital sites delivering Acute and Emergency Care as well as being a Major Trauma Centre. The Trust has two further locations (housing finance, ICT and other support services). This is located at Five Ways, Birmingham.

The Hospital has over 11,000 employees and is also host to the Royal Centre of Defence Medicine (RCDM), treating all seriously injured British military personnel evacuated from overseas. UHB provides direct clinical services to nearly 800,000 patients every year; serving a regional, national and international population. It is a centre for cancer, trauma, renal dialysis, burns and plastics, and has the largest solid organ transplantation programme in Europe. Midway through the tender, circumstances changed following an announcement stating the trust would be soon merging with another. The second trust comprises of three main hospital sites delivering Acute and Emergency Care.

The NHS Trust went to tender because they had the requirement to meet 100% CQUIN compliance in their product offering.

Choosen Solution

The chosen proposal amounted to a total 79 operated CQUIN Compliant machines consisting of 23 snack, 20 combi, 17 hot drinks and 19 cold drinks. During the proposal The Vending People and the UHB Trust also worked together to find a solution that allowed the trust to sell food produced in their in house catering department. The solution came in the form of 4 self-operated food carousels.

The machines were strategically chosen based on where they would be situated and how they would be used at different locations. For areas with high footfall like corridors and waiting areas, the Sigma touch from Westomatic was chosen. The focus was on being able to provide high volumes quickly whilst offering a high quality drink, often coffee 2 go. For areas with less traffic like reception desks and staff rooms, the goal was to produce high quality soluble coffee that could meet the standards of the high street chains and last longer as a result of a lower footfall. The Foodbox from Unicum was selected as robust and reliable vending solution built with an innovative hardware platform and engineering solutions that provide maximum operations, efficiency and flexibility.

The Vending People always commit to ensuring a seamless installation process which has minimum impact on the busy working environments, across the various hospital sites. The Vending people treated every site independently, dedicating two full days to each site to successfully install all machines. The installation went smoothly due to previous site surveys, rigorous planning and clear collaboration between The Vending People departments and the Trusts.

What’s important to The NHS Trust as a customer?

The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust made it a priority to incorporate healthier food selections and adhere to the CQUIN scheme. The Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) is a framework within the NHS that supports improvements in the quality of services and the creation of new, improved patterns of care. It covers a wide range of areas, intending to drive transformational change within the NHS. As part of the scheme, 13 indicators have been published which aim to:

• improve the quality of the NHS services and outcomes for patients,
• reduce health inequalities,
• encourage collaboration across different providers
• improve the working lives of the NHS staff.

The first indicator is Improving Staff Health and Wellbeing, made up of three parts with equal weighting, although only one refers to food provision:

CQUIN 1b: Healthy food for NHS staff, visitors and patients

It does not ban any specific products but uses two methods to change the food environment within hospitals:

• it restricts promotions, placement and advertisement of less healthy foods
• it restricts sales volumes of less healthy foods

The Vending People use planograms to monitor product sales nationwide and develop a CQUIN compliant product offering. This ensures that a machine is always stocked with the perfect balance of healthy products and the most popular items that also generates the maximum amount of revenue possible. The in house retail analyst works to maximise product range and placement within vending machines, providing the perfect balance between variety and popularity, tailored to the appropriate environment and target audience.

Another reason for going to tender was the unreliability of the machine base that previously existed within the Trust. When a machine goes down it causes dissatisfied consumers and a loss of revenue for the institution. The main ways The Vending People combats unreliability is through a trusted efficient machine base, Preventive Planned Maintenance and fast response times.

The Trust also expressed how important good service meant to them, across all departments from the account manager to
the operations team and customer services. Good service covered the full management of the entire machine base by keeping them stocked, clean, operational and accompanied with regular communication and advice. The Vending People understands no one size fits all, which is why all 4 locations receives a service that’s right for them. The fully managed vending service for the UHB requires one dedicated static operator, unlike Hartlands and Goodhope who share a static operator. Solihull Hospital took a different approach because the site did not require as much time allocated and decided to use an operator on the most appropriate geographic route.

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