A new report will outline how the NHS in England could save a colossal £5bn by 2019-20 by improving its approach to staff organisation and purchasing.
The interim report by Lord Carter, on productivity in NHS hospitals, will be published in full in Autumn 2015.
Lord Carter was appointed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to chair the NHS Procurement and Efficiency Board in June 2014. After spending a year working with 22 hospitals on behalf of the government, he identified huge discrepancies in the way different hospitals managed their staff and procured medicines and everyday items.
Currently, the NHS uses 500,000 different lines of everyday items such as syringes and aprons, with the cost of some goods varying by as much as 35%.
Lord Carter will recommend the use of a single electronic catalogue to make the purchasing of such goods more cost-efficient, citing the example of one hospital which managed to save £40,000 a year by simply using a non-soluble version of a liver failure tablet costing 2p each instead of paying for soluble versions costing £1.50 each.
The review will emphasise the need for hospitals to improve the way staff rotas and flexible working allowances are organised, suggesting some £2bn could be saved if staff training and annual leave was better managed.
Lord Carter also revealed how hip operations were costing the NHS more than double the amount that they should because so many replacement hips were failing to perform as well as less expensive versions. This was costing as much as £17m a year as patients needed more follow-up care and further replacements as a result.
Following the publication of the report, Lord Carter and the Department of Health will detail what each hospital is expected to save if his recommendations are implemented.
Although there are clearly some extremely good hospitals in England, there are also a number of trusts where efficiency can definitely be improved. Slater and Gordon Lawyers very much welcome any report that outlines how savings can be made within the health service to improve productivity. The scale of waste Lord Carter identifies in his report is staggering, and if his recommendations are implemented, any resulting savings can obviously have a significant impact on patient care.
However, given that recommendations are being made for further NHS cuts, how will Lord Carter’s suggested measures be implemented and monitored, and crucially, what kind of effect will they have on patients?
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