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Spend Comparison Service

The Spend Comparison Service provides free-to-use spend analytics on procurement data from all of NHS England’s providers including acute, ambulance, mental health and community trusts.

The service is currently comprised of 2 data collections:

The data gathered from the collections is processed, normalised and enriched, and displayed via analytical dashboards. The data is available to a variety of NHS procurement, finance and clinical users.

The analytical information enables NHS procurement and finance stakeholders to identify areas of non-pay expenditure, common expenditure and potential areas for cost savings. The information enables NHS England to help providers reduce cost and improve the quality of their services.

The Spend Comparison Service:

  • helps providers across integrated care systems to reduce price variation and identify area for collaboration
  • helps address product variation in clinical specialities and improve the quality of their services
  • helps providers maximise their use of resources and become more efficient as required by the provider licence
  • supports an approach to benchmarking for regulatory purposes
  • informs strategic programmes led by Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT), NHS England and NHS Supply Chain
  • informs NHS national aggregation initiatives such as Nationally Contracted Products

Introduction to Spend Comparison

The NHS Spend Comparison Service (SCS) is developed and maintained by the Central Commercial Function in NHS England with and on behalf of NHS providers. It comprises several data collections from NHS providers, NHS procurement outsourced providers and NHS Supply Chain, which after being processed enable a range of different questions to be answered. Because different users need different questions answered through different analytical means, a range of complementary dashboards have been created. Each of these analytical dashboards under the SCS product umbrella meets a specific set of use cases and has a specific target audience.

The SCS was introduced in August 2019 with an analytical dashboard that enables product price benchmarking based on submitted Purchase Order data and NHS Supply Chain transactional data. In October 2021, a new standalone analytical dashboard was launched as part of the SCS that enables spend analysis based on submitted Accounts Payable data.

The SCS has become centrally funded from August 2022 and is now a free-to-use service. In May 2023, NHS England launched a new analytical dashboard that enables additional savings opportunities and cost pressures to be identified through a combination of Purchase Order and NHS Supply Chain data. 

Data submissions and resubmissions

All NHS trusts (acute, specialists, mental health, community and ambulance) are required to submit their purchase order and accounts payable data.

The data submissions are partly automated for NHS organisations that are customers of NHS NEP and NHS SBS, and complemented with manual submissions through the Strategic Data Collections Service (SDCS) for all other organisations.

The NHS Spend Comparison Service data collections rely on submissions of full datasets across spend categories for the respective time periods, not merely a subset of data for specific categories.

Purchase Order data is collected on a weekly basis and Account Payable data is collected monthly.

Data processing

The raw submitted data is processed, normalised and enriched by NHS England according to a range of data integration workflows, which have been developed and refined with participating NHS organisations. The outline of these data integration workflows can be accessed by participating authorities via the Central Commercial Function Hub.

Request access for the CCF Hub

The resulting data is stored in a commercial data warehouse, which forms the foundation for the analytical dashboards that make up the SCS.

Benefits of contributing to and using the Spend Comparison Service

The analytical dashboards enable users to view submitted data and complementary data from third party sources in several different formats. This allows for different methods of analysis, including but not limited to:

  • identifying total and pareto spend by normalised supplier and category to rationalise (or disaggregate where relevant) and assure relevant contracts are in place/ risks are mitigated
  • benchmarking prices paid for goods, direct from supplier and through different supply routes to understand the most cost-effective supply route to achieve savings and avert cost pressures
  • benchmarking prices paid for services, where this is enabled through additional data collections, such as Estates Returns Information Collection (ERIC) data
  • identifying alternative products per spend category and category tower

This analysis may assist with achieving better value, as well as identifying inflation, possible sources of alternative stock, supplier spend and financial sustainability insight, spend by category and commonality, and insight into and trends within supply markets.

Registration and access

The Spend Comparison Service comprises a range of analytical dashboards for different target audiences and use cases. The most widely targeted analytical dashboards can be accessed through the NHS England application library. NHS stakeholders can register for an OKTA account to access these ‘Live’ ‘SCS – Purchase Order Price Benchmarking’ and ‘SCS – Accounts Payable Spend Analytics’ dashboards, which are hosted on the NHS England application library.

Many NHS stakeholders will already have an OKTA user account to access the NHS England application library for services such as Model Health System and the Data Collection Framework, where procurement metrics are submitted through.

Additional, more targeted ‘Public’ and ‘Private Beta’ dashboards are made available to NHS procurement and commercial stakeholders. These dashboards are hosted on PowerBI and can be accessed through an NHS organisational Microsoft account after set-up. Users can request to be set-up on these dashboards via this access request form. More information about these can be found on the Central Commercial Function Hub.

Request access for the CCF Hub

The use of the Spend Comparison Service is governed by the terms and conditions highlighted in the End User Access Agreement (EUAA).

Registration and access for data submission is managed through the Strategic Data Collections Service (SDCS). Users are able to register themselves for a user account and obtain the ability to submit PO and AP data for their organisations. Please note that Accounts Payable and Purchase Order data is automatically submitted for NHS NEP customers and Accounts Payable data is automatically submitted for NHS SBS customers.

Training and guidance

The below NHS Spend Comparison user guide serves as a user guide for the ‘Live’ ‘SCS – Purchase Order Price Benchmarking’ dashboard. It provides an understanding of how to navigate around the product, some examples of how to use the service to gain specific insights, and some useful tips.

In addition to this user guide, there are a range of short videos and additional guidance available for NHS SCS PO and AP dashboards, which can be accessed via the Central Commercial Function Hub.

Request access for the CCF Hub

Details of arranged training events will appear on the Team Calendar on the Central Commercial Function when available to book.

If you have any specific queries about how to submit data, please follow the guidance and or contact details on the Strategic Data Collection Service page.

If you have any specific queries about how to use the dashboards, please contact: [email protected].

Last edited: 18 July 2023 4:25 pm