Purchasing and contract management is about managing the process of tendering for the supply of goods and services, awarding contracts and ensuring they run smoothly.
Training and qualifications required
You could work your way up from a business administration apprenticeship and/or level 3 qualification in business studies or degree with purchasing and supply modules. Qualifications awarded by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply are usually required for managers working in this field and are offered at various levels.
Expected working hours and salary range
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers. In purchasing and contract management, your career in the NHS would typically start at Agenda for Change Band 5, with opportunities to progress to positions at Bands 6 and 7, and the most senior roles rising to Band 8c for example. Staff in the NHS will usually work a standard 37.5 hours per week. They may work a shift pattern. Terms and conditions of service can vary for employers outside the NHS.
Desirable skills and values
To work in purchasing and contract management, you’ll typically need effective business acumen, strong negotiating skills, good communication skills, leadership skills, organisational skills, a willingness to work with others and respect their views, confidence with numbers, confidence with information technology, the ability to challenge the way things are and find better alternatives and a commitment to the ideals of quality and fairness in delivering healthcare.
With further training and/or experience, you may be able to develop your career further and apply for more senior managerial roles – potentially at director level, with a broader remit. Progression for those with ability is typically via general management with a large healthcare provider. Relocation for promotion is common. More diverse routes are now opening up, for example, jointly-funded posts between health and social services.