Photo of Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of NHSBSA

NHS Business Services Authority - NHE Magazine feature

Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of NHS Business Services Authority talks about the arms length body and how it supports frontline NHS services.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is “an extraordinary organisation, and NHS jewel”.  These aren’t my words, but those of Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, who knows a lot about what good looks like.  It’s a great endorsement for an organisation that many, even within the health and care system, are not aware of.  Perhaps that jewel has been too well hidden?  I’ve been in post as Chief Executive of the NHSBSA for just over six months now and am still astonished by the breadth and depth of the services we provide. 

We of course all know that the NHS is our nation’s greatest institution. It provides hope, it fixes us in our time of need and helps us to live longer and healthier lives, creating more memories with those that we care most about. But to be at its best, its most efficient and its most effective, the frontline NHS needs support; and the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) exists to provide that support. We are the expert delivery organisation relied upon by Government and the health and care system to provide a range of complex and essential high volume business services to support the day-to-day smooth running of the NHS. We provide a platform for at scale, national payments for primary care services to pharmacists and dentists. We support the NHS workforce providing employment, HR and payroll platforms, as well as providing financial support to NHS students and running the NHS Pension Scheme. And we provide a range of services direct to the public to help citizens in gaining access to the healthcare and support with health costs to which they are entitled. All in all we manage about £35 billion of health service transactions.

By transitioning these complex and complicated services, digitising, transforming and then delivering them once, nationally and at scale we can deliver better patient outcomes and great taxpayer value, generating significant savings for the NHS which can then be reinvested in frontline care. As we develop our role in the health and care system, the breadth and depth of services that we have been asked to undertake has grown significantly and we group them into three broad operational areas:

  • Platforms and services we provide to the NHS to best support the workforce agenda and its people

Our support for the NHS workforce agenda starts right at the beginning of a prospective  NHS employees journey. From September we will be administering the new NHS Training Grant to support new colleagues through their training and we also help hundreds of thousands of people to find work each year or progress their careers with the NHS through our NHS Jobs service. Our national Electronic Staff Record system, with over one and a half million staff records, is the platform on which NHS organisations record essential workforce, skills and training information and make accurate and timely payments to our invaluable NHS workforce. And once our NHS colleagues have completed their careers, we support their retirement through delivery of the NHS Pension Scheme – the largest pension scheme in Europe - which has over three million members and makes payments to NHS Pensioners of over £12 billion annually. We also provide HR Shared Services delivering at scale, efficient and effective HR services to other organisations.

  • Services we provide to support essential primary care functions

We support primary care in the NHS by helping commissioners to manage their contractual arrangements with NHS providers and we support those essential providers of services to the NHS, in particular our pharmacy and dentistry colleagues. We do this by processing over one billion prescription items each year and nearly 50 million dental claims, making over £12 billion of accurate and timely payments for the essential services they provide to patients and the public. So, in many ways we help to keep services in primary care flowing. We also provide a high-tech scanning service which saves NHS organisations money and, as importantly, vital office and operational space in their buildings.

  • Services direct to the public to support access to healthcare and help with health costs

Finally, we support members of the public in gaining access to healthcare services and the help with health costs to which they are entitled. Whether that be through the range of exemption schemes that we operate (such as maternity, low income, medical exemption schemes) providing free or reduced cost prescriptions or dentistry, or through our work supporting UK residents living or working overseas and the broader reciprocal healthcare arrangements with other countries. Each year we support around ten million citizens in this way.  We have also recently taken over responsibility from the DHSC for a range of Healthy Foods schemes, all of which are key preventative and population health interventions. 

Of course, it isn’t just what we do that matters, what is equally important is how we do it. In many ways it defines who we are and our sense of purpose.  We take pride in designing our services around the needs and experience of our users, of having a digital first mentality, whilst still ensuring a range of channels are available for the public to access our services. Our multi award winning contact centre is testament to our belief in inclusivity and accessibility of our services by all.

Because of the national and at scale nature of our services we produce and collate vast amounts of data. Our first duty is to ensure the safety, security and accuracy of this data and we understand and prioritise the importance of this data governance and stewardship role.  We then apply our analytical skills to produce actionable insight and we collaborate and innovate with partners to use these insights to drive improvements in patient outcomes, patient safety and taxpayer value.

As the NHS and the government work to implement the NHS Long Term Plan (and supporting People Plan) and to deliver the Secretary of State’s priorities for the NHS workforce, its Technology Vision for the NHS and its focus on prevention, working alongside NHSX, NHSE/I, PHE and NHS Digital we believe our portfolio of services and our capabilities are right at the sweet spot of this agenda.  Our talented and dedicated colleagues across the organisation care deeply and passionately about supporting the NHS and despite delivering what many would class as back office or support services, we are all proud to say we are the NHS delivering for the NHS.

Michael Brodie, Chief Executive of NHS Business Services Authority

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Sahdia Hassen