No Purchase Order No Pay Guidance

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) is re-enforcing our ‘no purchase order, no payment’ policy, from the 1st of January, 2024.

After this date NUH will not process any payment for an invoice that does not quote an official purchase order number relating to the specific service or goods provided, excluding those on the exception list. This is in line with our Standard Financial Instructions and aims to strengthen financial controls, increase compliance and support prompt payment to suppliers.

1. Who it covers

This covers all NUH suppliers unless you operate with us under an exception agreement. 

You could be recognised as a supplier in our accounting system if you have received payments from NUH in the past.

There are a limited number of exceptions [see below] that are applicable: details are provided as a separate list.

This does not apply to statutory payments to government departments and council rates.  If you are a commercial business providing goods or services then unless you are specifically identified as an exemption in the list provided, this will apply to your business. If in doubt, please email the procurement team using the email address given in this note.

2. Purchase orders

A purchase order will be sent to you before you start providing any goods or services to NUH.  The purchase order will be emailed to the email address you gave in your supplier details.

If the details on your purchase order are wrong or you don’t understand the information, you need to contact the person who placed the original order with you. Their contact information will be on the purchase order and if it’s needed, they can clarify the details for you or cancel the order to issue a replacement.

If you didn’t receive your purchase order, get in touch with the person who made the verbal or email order and ask for it to be sent again.

Once you receive your purchase order, the purchase order number must be quoted on the invoice, and then emailed to NUH to process payment.

3. Invoices

What needs to be on your invoice?

To make sure your invoice is processed correctly, you need to make sure it clearly displays the word ‘invoice’.

It should also include:

  • invoice number (or unique identification number)
  • purchase order number
  • company name, address, and contact details
  • name and address of the department or agency you’re invoicing
  • clear description of what you’re charging for
  • date the goods or service were provided (supply date)
  • date the invoice was created
  • amount being charged (this could be one or more)
  • VAT amount (if applicable)
  • total amount owed

You also need to make sure your invoice:

  • only contains items that are on your purchase order
  • gives descriptions that match the ones on your purchase order
  • gives us the supplier details that match the ones on your purchase order

If any of this information is missing, the invoice will be sent back to you.

4. Sending your invoice to NUH

Send your invoices to NUH by email:

Your email should:

  • be less than 4mb in size
  • only contain one invoice per attachment (multiple invoices can be attached to one email)
  • give NUH any supporting information in the invoices PDF file (for example, backing data)
  • open files (not encrypted or password protected)

If your invoice doesn’t meet these requirements, it won’t be processed and will be sent back to you.

5. Processing an invoice

The majority of invoices are paid without any issues, but an invoice might be returned to you or held in the finance system whilst waiting for further action.

6. Invoice validation

Invoices are validated in our finance system. If the validation fails, the payment will be put on hold. When you quote a purchase order number on your invoice, the system will try to match it to the purchase order number it has on record.

We may not be able to validate it if:

  • the invoice amounts are higher than the amount on the purchase order (price, quantity or total)
  • there are more lines on the invoice than lines on the purchase order

Invoices that match our records will be passed for payment once we have confirmed the receipt of the goods or services involved.

7. Payment

We aim to pay you within 30 days after receiving your invoice.

If an invoice doesn’t meet the requirements or doesn’t pass validation, it will be sent back to you.

If the information you provide is wrong we are likely to place your invoice on hold, as disputed. If we dispute your invoice, that will delay your payment.  If an invoice is disputed, we will always send it back to you with a letter that explains the reasons why.

The reason could be:

  • the invoice number was not quoted
  • the purchase order number was not quoted on the invoice
  • the purchase order number is out of date (‘finished’ or ‘closed’)
  • the purchase order number does not match the NUH issued order
  • the purchase order number does not match the description or dates on the invoice
  • more than one purchase order number has been quoted on one invoice
  • more than one invoice is given in a single PDF document

If you need to speak to someone about a dispute, contact us by emailing

9. Further information

If you have received a request for goods or services from someone at NUH but without having a purchase order, please raise this with that individual in the first instance and request that they arrange a purchase order.

If you have any queries about invoices you believe to be valid (i.e., which have been sent with valid details and a valid purchase order number) please email

If you have any other questions that aren’t covered in this document, you can contact the NUH Purchase to Pay team. We have also put together some FAQs [link to Supplier FAQ] you may find useful.


Please note, our list of exceptions [see below] will change over time, as we seek to ensure that all relevant expenditure is covered through an appropriate procurement process. Suppliers on this list will change. If you are in doubt, please ask.

No Purchase Order No Pay Allowable Exceptions

1. Bespoke ordering systems or equivalent

  • Pharmacy: orders placed via Ascribe (the e-prescribing and medicines management software)
  • Orthotics: orders placed via Clinical Manager
  • Research & Innovation Funding: for R & I studies identifiable by an R&I project code.
  • Wheelchair Services: orders placed via the BEST (Bringing Equipment Services Together) system
  • Prosthetics: – contracts in place but orders only used to pay invoices

2. NHS organisations & associated companies

  • NHS Supply Chain (excluding supply chain maintenance)
  • All NHS Providers and Commissioners i.e. entities within the NHS accounting group

3. Diagnostic Services

  • Optical vouchers
  • Payments to Individuals

4. Bank and Agency

  • NHS Professionals
  • HCL Doctors

5. Patient Care

  • Private ambulance service
  • Interpretation services
  • Homecare Orders
  • GP Surgeries

6. General

  • Utility bills e.g. Water, Gas, Electrical, and Telecommunications

7. Couriers e.g. postage costs

8. Automotive Leasing

9. The University of Nottingham

  • Exceptions are salary & associated costs recharges and R&I funding
  • Costs not relating to the above e.g. courses, office consumables, room hire, conference venues should have a PO

10. Payroll & petty cash payments

  • Petty cash cheques
  • Patient Refunds (General Office)
  • Death in Service payments
  • Interview expenses
  • Salary Deductions (court orders, student loan repayments, insurances; AVC, charitable contributions, union membership; staff lottery, mess fees
  • Losses and Compensation payments
  • HMRC e.g. statutory payments
  • Salary Finance (repayment of loans & advances)
  • DBS Checks
  • Clinical Academic/ University of Nottingham staff expenses (individuals)
  • Pensions
  • Salary sacrifice scheme providers (bicycles, cars, technology, white goods, childcare vouchers, travel cards)

11. Hospital Pharmacy Services Nottingham

12. Purchasing Card Expenditure

13. Corporate Travel Management

  • Business-related travel and accommodation booked through the CTM system

14. Local Authorities

15. Allstar Business Solutions Limited

  • Fuel card usage (paid by direct debit)

16. Interserve Investments Energy Centre

Frequently Asked Questions (for suppliers)

Q1: Will I only receive POs through the post?

No, POs will usually be emailed to the email address provided in your supplier details.

PO numbers can also be confirmed over the telephone, but for your own records you should ask for the copy.


Q2: What happens if I receive a PO and it does not seem to be correct or I don’t understand the details?

Contact the person who placed the PO initially (details will be quoted on the order) and ask for clarification. If necessary, the original PO can be cancelled, and a replacement issued.


Q3: What should I do if I don’t receive a PO?

Contact the person who is making the order and ask for a valid PO.


Q4: How do I know that the PO has been approved at the correct level of authority?

POs will only be produced by our corporate finance system once authorised by the appropriate person.


Q5: Will I be paid quicker if I quote a PO number?

The Trust’s standard payment terms for invoices submitted against a PO are 30 days

from date of invoice.

Invoices may be delayed for payment if conditions exist that lead to the invoice being disputed. (See Q7), however, invoices received without a valid PO number quoted will not be paid and will be returned. This may lead to a delay in the payment process.


Q6: An invoice has been returned requesting a valid PO number must be quoted.

How can this be obtained?

You should contact the person who placed the original order instruction and ask them to provide a valid PO number. When obtained, you should send a replacement invoice quoting the valid PO number to as a PDF or mail the Invoice to the address provided.

Note, you should cancel the original submitted invoice in your system as the Trust will not have recorded this in your supplier account in Accounts Payable.


Q7: What should I do if I have sent an invoice quoting a valid PO number and my

payment appears to be delayed?

Contact the Trust’s Accounts Payable team on email

Invoices may be disputed for a variety of valid reasons that may include, but not limited to:

- PO number quoted on invoice is closed or complete

- PO number quoted does not match the issued PO

- Invoice quantities, description, dates or pricing do not match those on the quoted PO Number

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