Around 6,000 suppliers to the NHS in eastern England are being offered a free electronic invoicing service which promises to speed their payments.

Tradeshift will providing e-invoicing services to Anglia Support Partnership (ASP), the shared service provider to the NHS in the east of England. The move supports the government’s drive to ensure the public sector makes prompt payments to its suppliers.

ASP chose to integrate Tradeshift into its finance system because of the benefits it brings to both suppliers and to its organisation. For the suppliers, it is a free and easy way to submit invoices electronically and monitor their progress.

No investment is needed by the supplier and it integrates with any finance systems that they currently use for invoice generation. Payments will also be quicker through the guarantee that invoices will be accepted or rejected within five working days, which is particularly important for small firms with tight cashflows.

Tradeshift is built as a social network for businesses, allowing any company using the service are able to connect easily with other customers, leave comments, make changes to documents, request credit notes and make use of additional Tradeshift services.

For ASP, the use of Tradeshift’s e-invoicing service will reduce the cost of processing the 425,000 invoices it deals with each year. At the moment these invoices are submitted in a variety of physical and electronic formats, all of which have to be manually scanned.

By having the majority of invoices submitted electronically through the single Tradeshift portal, ASP will be able to reduce its costs, improve accuracy and increase the speed of processing the invoices.

ASP intends to make the use of Tradeshift mandatory for all new and existing suppliers.

Nick Wood, director of shared services at ASP, said, “We are committed to both reducing our costs as part of the drive to achieve £20bn of savings within the NHS and to making prompt payments to our suppliers. Tradeshift allows us to do this quickly and easily and we are confident that our 6,000 suppliers will embrace the benefits that it brings.”

The UK’s progress in developing e-businesses is well below the European average, according to a report ( by the European Commission (EC). In some cases, the UK is only ahead of countries like Cyprus, Lithuania and Hungary.

Overall on e-business indicators, the UK came in at 28th out of 31 countries, according to the scoreboard report published by the EC this month, which shows the performance of countries delivering on the agreed targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

The Digital Agenda, launched last year, commits the EC and its member states to carry out specific actions to boost investment in, and use of, digital technologies.