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Five tips for buying stationery

Nick Coleman says it is easy to pay stationery companies over the odds for office consumables needed at the surgery.

Joining a stationery group can secure the members good prices (Photograph: Istock)
Joining a stationery group can secure the members good prices (Photograph: Istock)

Have you ever agreed a contract with a stationery supplier based on fantastic discounts and found the bills are higher than expected?

If so, you are not alone.

Stationery suppliers are notorious for offering great pricing on core ranges and inflating non-core prices. Half the items purchased by practices beyond the basics are usually for products where contract pricing has not been agreed.

Cost-saving tips

1. Buy online
Stationery purchasing online is hassle-free, saving you money and time. So bin glossy catalogues promoting premium products with variable recommended retail prices.

2. Use national companies
Buying via national networks enables GPs to access the best prices compared with local suppliers (who buy from national networks to sell to you).

3. Join a buying group
Collaborative buying of products like stationery is a powerful way to negotiate with suppliers. Find out if there is a group locally. Otherwise, some healthcare procurement specialists have groups for whom they aggregate spend to secure best prices.

4. Get smart with toners
Toner cartridges for printers can be expensive. Compatible toner quality is hard to find but there are specialist companies that offer 'original equipment manufacturer' quality products at lower prices under their own name/branding but providing the same levels of service and support.

5. Log the products the practice uses most
Make a list of the practice's top 50 products and ensure staff ordering supplies are not lured away from it into buying more costly 'premium' products.

  • Nick Coleman is a director of healthcare sector procurement specialists ProCure Health Ltd

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