Where Do Hospitals Get Their Supplies?

Where Do Hospitals Get Their Supplies?
14 March 2024

Where Do Hospitals Get Their Supplies?

Hospitals are hives of activity, with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people moving in and out of their doors each day. In every hospital, the priority is always to provide healthcare services for their patients. To do this, dedicated hospital staff rely on a wide range of supplies, pieces of equipment, devices, disposables, and products. So where do hospitals buy their supplies? And how exactly does the hospital supply chain work? Who is in charge of managing these processes? Who orders supplies for hospitals and manages the stock levels to be prepared for surges in demand and emergency situations?

Steroplast is a well-established medical supplier with over twenty-five years of experience supplying UK hospitals. We stock thousands of products and are proud to be a trusted link in the hospital supply chain. With our expertise in the hospital supply sector, we’ll help to unpack the questions about where hospitals source their supplies in this article.

doctor with hospital patient

Understanding The Hospital Supply Chain

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, public interest in the nature of medical supply chains has increased, understandably so. Whether it’s running out of toilet rolls in the supermarkets or a national shortage of disposable face masks and hand sanitiser, we now all understand the negative impacts of a shortage in supply in a time of great need. So it makes sense that a lot of people take an interest and are asking, ‘where do hospitals buy their medical supplies?’

The hospital supply chain is large, diverse, and multifaceted, and it must be managed consistently with great care to ensure shortages don’t impact patient care and endanger life when stocks of medical supplies are relied upon. The hospital supply chain comprises a complex network of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, procurement officers, providers, and much more, depending on the specifics of the hospital purchasing.

A lot of time, energy, and management go into building and maintaining a functional, reliable, and flexible hospital supply chain that can cope with the demands placed upon the healthcare system at any given time. Allowing for swells in demand and shortages in supply must be factored in at all stages of the supply chain, with backup options and emergency solutions factored in at all levels.

A 2022 Study on Hospital Supply Chain Management discusses various hospital supply chain management models. Hassan (2006) defines the process as:

“Hospital supply chain is the set of design activities, planning, procurement management, manufacturing (goods and services), delivery and return management, from the provider to the beneficiary (patients), taking into account all the trajectories of the patients in the hospital without which there is no product flows (pharmaceutical).

These activities are driven by the information flow between the various partners in the supply chain and lead to financial flows. The aim is to provide optimal service for the quality and safety of patient care”

Evidently, supply chain management is an art form in itself. Procurement officers, stock managers, and anyone else who orders supplies for hospitals benefit from working with reliable, efficient distributors and suppliers like Steroplast, who can ensure that required medical supplies are delivered promptly and in full, even as demand fluctuates. 

Hospital Supply Chain

Let’s break down the hospital supply chain model to understand it better:

(Click to expand)


Suppliers and Distributors


Healthcare Providers


With so many different stakeholders along the hospital supply chain, many strategic considerations must go into the ongoing management of the operation. Emergency purchasing and disaster-preparedness are central aspects of supply chain budgeting and management for hospitals, allowing managers to make emergency orders and adapt in the event of a crisis, working to meet new demands for certain supplies as required.

Who is responsible for ordering hospital supplies?

So, who purchases supplies for hospitals? As we’ve discussed briefly in the hospital supply chain model above, there are a number of different people who buy supplies for hospitals. This depends on the types of supplies, the department they’re for, the scale and cost of the order, and many other factors. 

The purchase of large, expensive pieces of medical equipment such as MRI scanners or dialysis machines is generally discussed and approved at the board level with a number of team members involved in the decision-making, accounting for various factors before such a large investment is approved.

conforming bandage on hand

Conversely, disposable items such as bandages, sundries, PPE or cleaning products are likely to be ordered regularly by various staff members multiple times across various hospital departments in a single day, depending on demand. The staff members placing these kinds of orders are generally department managers or stock room managers, who are responsible for monitoring and maintaining appropriate levels.

NHS procurement officers are generally the go-between between the hospital staff who place regular orders with suppliers and distributors, and the suppliers and distributors with whom they’ve approved a contract. The NHS procurement framework ensures that quality control, cost management, and legal requirements are met in advance of the goods being received and used in a healthcare facility.

Who supplies hospitals?

With such a huge amount of activity in a hospital, the various hospital departments rely on a large number of different suppliers for a range of purposes.

Common types of hospital suppliers include (Click to expand):

Medical Suppliers

Pharmaceutical Companies

Medical Equipment Developers

Furniture Suppliers

Laboratories and Testing Facilities

Cleaning Companies, Launderers and Linen Suppliers


Where to Buy Hospital Supplies

Choosing the right hospital suppliers is important. Financial considerations, time constraints, storage considerations, quality checks, and trust must all be taken into account. 

Hospital department leaders and stock room managers who buy supplies for hospitals benefit from working with reliable, well-established and long-trusted healthcare suppliers who stock a wide range of professional-grade supplies that cover a wide range of areas. This makes the buying process much easier. 

Hospital medical supplies lists are split into various categories, ranging from specialised equipment to first aid supplies, bleed control equipment, airway management devices, PPE, infection control products, patient handling equipment, and much more. Experienced, well-established suppliers like Steroplast are ideal hospital suppliers because their stock lists cover several bases. 

We’ve been providing NHS hospitals and medical facilities across the country with a wide range of premium medical supplies for over twenty-five years, delivering quality medical goods consistently and efficiently to ensure that the hospital supply chain runs smoothly and patient needs remain a number one priority. That’s why hospitals, nursing homes, and private healthcare facilities across the UK source their medical supplies from Steroplast.

Browse our comprehensive range of hospital-ready supplies now:

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