The recent report by The National Audit Office has revealed that NHS hospitals in England could save around £500m a year if they improve the way they buy everyday supplies.
The report looked at how hospitals purchased 66,000 products – from nurses’ uniforms and bandages to paper clips. NHS hospitals in England spend around £4.6bn each year on a huge range of supplies.
Whilst sufficient supplies are vital, it is claimed that the NHS is throwing half a billion pounds away each year by paying over the odds for hospital equipment. Some hospitals are paying half as much as others for the same medical supplies – leading to massive waste at a tough economic time when nurses’ jobs are under threat and some operations are being rationed.
It is also revealed that some hospitals are racking up administrative costs through making lots of small orders, meaning they are missing out on discounts for bulk orders.
The National Audit Office also reveals says there is a huge variation in what hospitals buy.
For example, looking at just 61 trusts shows that 21 different types of A4 paper were purchased along with 652 different types of surgical and examination gloves. One trust purchased 13 types of gloves, and another trust purchased an astonishing 177 different types.
The chair of the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge MP, announced that given the NHS in England must find up to £20bn of annual savings by 2015 – the report showed that efficiencies could be made.