Health security agency seeks commercial experts

Three deputy director jobs intended to give UKHSA's “best-in-class commercial department"
Photo: Alachua County/CC BY 2.0

The UK Health Security Agency is offering up to £131,000 for a deputy director to head up its commercial management office – one of three commercial positions the health body is looking to fill in a bid to beef up the agency's expertise.

The role requires a risk mindset and experience of “managing very large contracts with complex commercial structures to ensure value for money is achieved, governance is ensured and risk is mitigated”, according to a job advert posted this week.

The positions are being advertised by the Government Commercial Function, which said in the advert that it was “building a cadre of commercial talent in all government departments”.

In this latest recruitment drive, it is also seeking a deputy director of commercial strategy and innovation and a deputy director in charge of contracts and supply management excellence. All the roles come with a salary range of between £91,800 and £131,300.

They will work within what the job ads call UKHSA’s “best-in-class commercial department, drawing from established techniques in [Public Health England], and the speed and innovation of NHS Test and Trace”.

The handling of some contracts used by PHE and test and trace, as well as elsewhere in the Department for Health and Social Care, have drawn significant criticism during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other things, critics identified a lack of transparency around procurement for critical medical supplies, and contracts that led to the buying of unusable PPE, leading to questions around due diligence on some of the contracts.

“UKHSA Commercial is designed to quickly understand the needs of the customer before bringing in technical and commercial experts to conduct procurements. The commercial management office is vital in bridging the gap between the customer and the market, as well as enacting other important strategic roles for commercial.”

The contracts and supply management role will entail setting the “vision, strategy and framework for contract and supplier management”, leading a team of experts to embed best practice.

The commercial strategy and innovation deputy director will be responsible for leading several “critical strategic agendas”, including the development of a commercial strategy and blueprint for UKHSA, and developing innovative approaches through its supply chain.

Applicants for the role must demonstrate political insight and demonstrate they have developed commercial strategies supporting the implementation of government policy, as well as market insight.

Successful candidates for the commercial management office and contracts and supplier roles are expected to be able to manage complexity; to lead teams using a coaching approach; and to have a risk mindset.

Candidates for all of the roles must have “significant commercial expertise” in the relevant areas.

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