The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) is saving 70 man hours a week after deploying Advanced Cloud Invoicing, an eInvoicing solution from Advanced. The drastic time savings have been achieved by moving from paper-based invoice processing to an automated electronic system.
The Trust is one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK, treating over 1.5 million patients annually across six sites in Newcastle including the Freeman Hospital and Royal Victoria Infirmary. The organisation, which has an operating income of nearly £1 billion and employs around 13,000 people, became an NHS Foundation Trust in 2006.
Advanced Cloud Invoicing enables suppliers to send invoices directly to an email address, where they are converted into files that can automatically be recorded into the organisation’s finance system. The invoice is scanned using code, which has significantly reduced the number of queries that the Trust’s finance team receives.
The Trust procured the software through the Crown Commercial Service Corporate Software Solutions agreement (framework number RM1042), which went live in October 2014. Advanced’s software is available on three of the seven specialist lots, including lot 2 for finance IT software solutions.
Since going live with the Advanced solution in December 2015, the trust has saved 70 man hours a week by significantly reducing the need to handle paper invoices and manually enter the details into the register. Invoices are now received and processed on the same day, compared to up to seven days. This has also enabled finance staff to carry out more value-added activities.
Seventy-five of the trust’s suppliers have switched to Cloud Invoicing within just three months. With more suppliers expected to sign up in the coming months, the trust is projecting that nearly two thirds of the 200,000 plus invoices that it handles every year will be processed through the new system.
Iain Bestford, Assistant Director of Finance at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, says, “The Advanced Cloud Invoicing solution has completely transformed our function and we are delighted with the success of the project. To have 40% of our invoices coming through the system within three months of going live is a fantastic achievement and will have a major impact on how the trust operates going forward. The efficiencies that we are gaining from this ensure that the trust’s resources can be focussed on patient-facing services.”
As a result of the time savings, the trust can now pay its suppliers more quickly, in line with the NHS Better Payment Practice Code (BPPC) which states that NHS suppliers should be paid within 30 days. It is also saving around 250,000 pieces of paper, helping the organisation to achieve cost savings and improve its sustainability.
Cloud Invoicing integrates directly into the trust’s accounting system, eFinancials, which is also provided by Advanced and has been in place for more than 10 years. The system is used by 160 people for a full range of financial functions including accounts payable and receivable, asset management, general ledger, purchase order processing, and budgeting and forecasting.
Bestford adds, “With the drive to pay suppliers more quickly and the wider efficiency agenda within the public sector, we needed a more slick and efficient system for invoicing. We knew from having worked with eFinancials for so many years that Advanced was a reliable provider with some very smart technology behind it.
“It’s important that we regularly assess our processes and systems. While NHS trusts face heavy budget pressures, we are aware of our responsibility within the finance department to be as efficient as possible so the return can be cascaded through to improving patient services.”