Baringa: Defining the COVID-19 Response Ecosystem

Baringa: Defining and establishing the ecosystem & supply chain that underpins NHS Test and Trace and the UK’s vaccination programme

Baringa has served at the forefront of the UK’s COVID-19 response since the outset. The consultancy has supported a number of COVID-related health projects, initially partnering with the Department of Health and Social Care to procure vital PPE amid the UK’s first wave in March 2020. 

Baringa teams led by Sarah Ashley, Government Partner, and John Calder, Partner and Practice Lead for Supply Chain and Procurement, have been instrumental in the intervening 18 months. As a commercial partner to NHS Test and Trace, Ashley says the team was “building the plane as we were flying it to mobilise the programme and get the commercial function up and running in the early days of the pandemic”, defining category strategies, executing commercial activities and setting up governance and approvals for commercial ops. 

“We worked early on with Jacqui Rock, CCO, NHS Test and Trace,” Ashley says. “We were building the pipeline, working with different suppliers, and putting in place the commercial agreements that have allowed Test and Trace to delivery, amongst other things, the national asymptomatic testing programme,   and the set-up of the megalabs.”

That involved providing commercial assurance for over £1bn in spend, engaging with 150+ suppliers, negotiating rates, working with business owners to challenge requirements, and executing 300+ contracts, Ashley explains. “This has resulted in multimillion pound savings for NHS Test and Trace.” 

It is a high-pressure, high-stakes environment, and one in which Baringa’s most senior teams drew upon all their experience to deliver the required outcome. “This is an unprecedented situation,” Ashley says. “What you don't want is teams of consultants writing decks all day; you need experienced people to have conversations with our clients as peers, to define the risks, the knock-on impacts, and the logical next best step. That’s why we've been successful.” 

In the UK’s vaccInation programme, Baringa was integral in establishing and rapidly scaling a supply chain at a pace Calder says “has never really been done before, anywhere in the world”. In just five weeks the supply chain was designed, partners were sourced and mobilised, and at the beginning of December 2020, Baringa supported the Pfizer vaccine rollout to care homes at the start of the programme. 

“Today, more than sixty million vaccinations have been delivered and 75+% of all adults in the UK have received both vaccinations,” Calder says. “The supply chain has been a key contributor to that. It has stood up to all the challenges thrown at it, from international supply constraints to the surge of the Delta variant. It has delivered 99% on time, and all with next to no damage or loss of the precious vaccine, which has been a key part of the mandate.” 

As the efforts to combat COVID-19 evolves, so too will Baringa’s involvement. “It's really important for us to hand over and not do these roles forever,” says Ashley, who has placed great emphasis on building resilient processes and frameworks. “Handing back to the whole health ecosystem is vital,” adds Calder. “We’re building a legacy, and making sure that when the consulting engagements end, we’ve transitioned to an up-skilled client team to run this going forward.”



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