Procurement Structure

Tim Root, Assistant Head, NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service, Specialist Pharmacy ServicePublished

A brief overview of collaborative working for procurement of medicines and pharmaceutical products and services in the NHS.


Several agencies work together to procure medicines and pharmaceutical products and services for acute care in the NHS.

Commercial Medicines Unit (CMU)

The CMU is part of the NHSE&I Commercial Medicines Directorate.

CMU is responsible for tendering, awarding and managing frameworks for licensed medicines for the regional purchasing groups, in compliance with public contract regulations.

All tendering opportunities including a 3 year workplan can be found on the government contracts finder website.

National Pharmaceutical Supply Group (NPSG)

The strategic organisation of medicines procurement is ratified by the NPSG.

NPSG membership

The Group is Chaired by the Head of the Specialist Pharmacy Service. Membership consists primarily of secondary care chief pharmacists representing their geographical area and representatives from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Pharmaceutical Market Support Group (PMSG)

PSMG is a subgroup of NPSG and enacts the strategy requirements set by NPSG. It is Chaired by an RPPS.

PMSG membership

Membership of PMSG consists of the Regional Pharmacy Procurement Specialists (RPPS) and leads from CMU for branded and generic medicines along with the Principal Pharmacist lead.  Representatives from the Devolved Administrations, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS Pharmaceutical QA Committee (NHS QA) and Medicines Information (MI) functions of the Specialist Pharmacy Service (SPS) also attend.

PMSG subgroups

The PMSG has three subgroups:

  • the Generic Medicines subgroup
  • the Branded and Biosimilar subgroup
  • the National Medicines Homecare Committee (NHMC)

Generic Medicines subgroup

This subgroup supports development and management of the generic medicines frameworks and monitoring of the generics market, including horizon scanning for patent expiries, tender planning and supplier performance.

Branded and Biosimilar subgroup

This subgroup supports development and management of the frameworks for branded and biosimilar medicines and monitoring of the generics market, including horizon scanning for new pipeline products, tender planning and supplier performance.

National Medicines Homecare Committee (NHMC)

This subgroup acts as the national focus for developing and improving administration and governance processes for homecare medicines services.

Members are committed to collaboration and joint working across all sectors of the homecare medicines market.

Membership includes:

  • Regional Homecare Specialists
  • RPPS including representatives from the devolved administrations
  • CMU Homecare team
  • NHS commissioners
  • NHS QA
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)
  • Chief Pharmacist
  • clinical colleagues
  • representatives from the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
  • representatives from the National Clinical Homecare Association (NCHA).

NHMC subgroups

The NHMC has three subgroups:

  • Digital Strategy group (DSG), which published a 5-year strategy and shares a work plan with the NCHA.
  • Supplier Engagement group (SEG), which meets regularly with all homecare providers to review performance and support innovation in the homecare market.
  • Standardisation group, which aims to provide documents to support the NHS in the delivery of homecare services.