Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has begun to trade electronically with its suppliers using EROS version 4.4 – the first e-purchasing system in Europe to be developed which includes built in Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) functionality.

Plymouth is the first NHS trust that GHX and Crown Agents Purchasing Services (CAPS) have worked together with to provide a seamless end-to-end supply chain solution.

In March this year Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has become the first European hospital to be integrated into GHX’s e-commerce system.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest Trusts in the UK with 1,200 beds and more than 5,500 staff working at four healthcare facilities: Derriford Hospital, Royal Eye Infirmary, Mount Gould Hospital and Scott Hospital.

The first transaction took place between Derriford Hospital, the largest hospital within Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, and one of its biggest suppliers, Guidant. Additional suppliers now trading electronically with GHX include Medtronic and Boston Scientific.

Ian Shepherd, Head of Supplies at Plymouth anticipates long-term benefits based on the accuracy of information now available to his department: ‘In providing us with greater transparency of our processes, EROS 4.4 with GHX functionality will improve the quality of our work tremendously."

The e-commerce system includes an electronic catalogue – the GHX AllSource catalogue — that is maintained by suppliers and generates electronic orders that are sent directly into suppliers sales order systems.

"I am now really looking forward to our team increasingly focusing on strategic procurement instead of administrative tasks,’ said Mr Shepherd.

EROS 4.4, which was released in mid-May, was developed by the Belmin Group with support from GHX.

A joint team of GHX, Belmin, CAPS and Plymouth Hospitals has focused on streamlining the processes of integration. Immediate priorities have been the automated upload of the electronic catalogue into the Trust’s system and the information flow for purchase orders, acknowledgements, advanced shipping notifications, order statuses and other communications.

Jeff Scott, Managing Director of CAPS, said the software developed is now available to all its customers. "As a consequence, a process which took several months at Plymouth Hospitals will now be reduced to a few weeks for future implementations."

CAPS is the leading supplier of e-purchasing solutions within the NHS, with over 60 Trusts organising purchasing for their hospitals through the EROS system. The organisation was formed in 1998 as a joint venture company between The Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations Ltd. and the Belmin Group Ltd.

Global Healthcare Exchange is a leading electronic trading backed by major suppliers of medical devices and health IT systems. Formed as a privately held company in March 200 equity owners of GHX include Johnson & Johnson; GE Medical Systems; Baxter International, Inc.; Abbott Laboratories; and Medtronic, Inc.