Publish date: 22 January 2024


Senior Buyer for the Lancashire Procurement Cluster (LPC), Joe Tomlinson joined the Network in November 2023 to lead and facilitate a single procurement approach across our diagnostics services in Lancashire and South Cumbria. We caught up with Joe to find out more about him and his work.

“So how do you go from being at university studying theoretical physics, to a senior buyer in the NHS?"

The answer is that after two years of studying, I decided that working and earning a living was much more my thing – so I left the degree, got a job and didn’t look back.

My first role was in materials management – ordering and delivering goods at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in 2014. I carried out several roles including data analysis before moving into the Lancashire Procurement Cluster when it was established in 2017. In 2019 I went to work in Manchester but the pull of Lancashire and South Cumbria was too strong and I returned to the LPC two years later. I’m now a senior buyer, so have owned many ‘hats’ over the years.

As part of the LPC I’ve been used to working across different trusts, but the Collaborative is something quite different and quite new.

My first impression when I heard about the Collaborative was how great it was that it’s happening – but why didn’t it happen 10 years ago? It’s one of these where everything we do is just common sense in my mind. You’ve got hospitals 10 minutes down the motorway from each other so why wouldn’t you have the radiology teams talk to each other and working best practice? I am looking forward to helping this vision become a reality.

There’s a reason why massive multinational companies are so successful – because they work together and they do everything in the same way.

I know the level of process things have to go through in the NHS is frustrating. I just hope I can play a huge part in making purchasing essential equipment and contracts easier and cheaper for our teams whilst making the best use of public funds money.

My manager Sarah and predecessor Lukas have done a great job building relationships with the trusts so that they can gather information about things such as insourcing and outsourcing contracts, where we’re spending on maintenance and where we’re buying assets. My job now is to take that information and use it to make the biggest impact I can by facilitating collaborative contracts, identifying efficiencies on systems and equipment maintenance and effectively insourcing, outsourcing consumables where applicable.I’m hoping by actually delivering improvements and cost savings, people can see that the effort involved in the processes is all worthwhile.

Collaboration is so important because everyone should be using the best practice and the only time anyone should veer off from that would be when they try something new to test change and see if best practice can be improved. If we can show that one way is the best way to do something, we can share it with every network in the country for them to implement.

To read the full Diagnostics Imaging Network's January Newsletter, click here.