Get to know Michael Pace, Managing Director at NHS London Procurement Partnership

The ‘Get to Know’ series showcases staff from around the NHS Workforce Alliance (NHS WA) to give you a glimpse of the variety of roles in our organisation, and the people who perform them.

This month, we’re pleased to introduce Michael Pace, Managing Director at NHS London Procurement Partnership (NHS LPP).

What is your background?

I’ve worked for many years in procurement. I slightly fell into it, as many of us do, in my mid-20s. I have mainly worked in the public sector but during the break up of PASA, I joined a procurement consultancy with an expertise in eAuctions.  This led me to move to Chicago, US for five years before coming back to the UK in 2011. I resumed my career in the NHS before returning to the private sector and setting up my own consultancy. This then led me back to the NHS before joining SCCL and ultimately to my current role as Managing Director of NHS LPP.

I have three wonderful children, with the eldest having my wife and I’s first grandchild, who is already three years old. My middle child works in the NHS (not in procurement) and my youngest is in the Army and travelling all over the world which he is very happy about.

What is your role within the NHS Workforce Alliance, and what does it involve? 

My role today is different to when the alliance started. I was one of the founders along with the other hub MDs and David Skinner from CCS. I used to lead on customer engagement in the earlier days as we were establishing the NHS WA to a wider audience.  

As the alliance has grown into the success it is, my role now is to sit on the Executive board and support the wider team as and when needed.  Recently, I presented the alliance to Jacqui Rock, Chief Commercial Officer at NHS England. She was impressed and asked if we could second someone to her team to create the Category Commercial Council.  We are working closely with Jacqui’s team to see if this is possible. 

Why are you passionate about this?

Workforce is a tough gig in the NHS.  It accounts for approximately three quarters of the NHS spend and there are currently over 150,000 vacancies in the NHS.  I’m passionate about this as it is important to break the circular discussions around agency and bank staff and really look at how the NHS could and should be staffed properly.

We keep attacking the cost of agency and now bank, but we seem to do very little about the root cause of the issues. As with my own team, I have introduced lots of things to improve culture and give flexibility to the individuals, with an example of working a compressed four-day week.  I know and understand some of these probably wouldn’t work in a clinical setting, but hopefully we can take the principles of what we learn, and support the NHS to become a more flexible work place that supports it staff through their careers, creating the right work life balance to keep them within the NHS.  I do strongly believe this is the only way to tackle the high demand of agency and bank staffing.

What is the greatest challenge you face at work?  

Time.  Having said the above, it is really important for me to manage my time effectively.  The NHS, especially in procurement, is changing rapidly. I know I have said that for the last two years, but it is still changing. First with the development of PTOM and creation of ICBs and now that moving into the Central Commercial Function of NHS England.  

It is an exciting time to be in NHS Procurement and my challenge is to make sure the work we do across the NHS WA with our partners is recognised and supported. 

What was your first job, and how has it impacted your career?   

My first job was as a junior postman. It made a huge impact on my career. I didn’t leave school with many qualifications of note and was probably lucky to get this job. I quickly realised that getting up very early and walking around with a heavy bag of post was not for me.  

At the time, the Post Office was part of the public sector.  Luckily for me, they supported me in going back to night school to get my school qualifications before supporting me with various BTECs.  At the end of the two-year programme, I was given different options and decided to work in the offices. 

If I’m really honest I picked this route as I liked the idea of wearing a nice suit to work every day.  I worked in various roles in the Post Office offices including finance, payroll and, working behind a Post Office counter before finally working in procurement and found something I really enjoyed.

How would you spend a perfect day off?

If you had asked me three years ago, it would have been a very different answer. Today I enjoy spending time with my grandson and building things with him.  We recently built a wooden fort where he can play with his soldiers and dragons.  We’re just thinking about what to build next!

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