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05.04.18

Seven hospitals team up to save £2m in pioneering Sheffield ‘price match’ scheme

A clinician-led ‘price match’ scheme in Sheffield that saw staff and patients work across seven hospitals to agree on the best products for bulk buying has helped divert millions of pounds into the frontline.

According to NHS England, the scheme drove down the cost of simple items such as anti-embolism stockings and surgical gloves by ensuring that hospitals committed to buying them together.

Before the pioneering initiative, the hospitals had been buying a variety of brands and paying different prices for the same products, all of which did the same job – a problem that is not unheard of across the entire NHS, and one which Lord Carter sought to address in his efficiency review.

Now, hospitals evaluate products to ensure there is no different in the standard of care for patients as a result of switching to the most cost-effective options. They also put in place opportunities for staff to voice any concerns.

By committing to collaboratively buy in bulk, the hospitals have changed 11 products and saved £2m, including a single £400,000 saving just by switching to one type of examination glove.

Professor Des Breen, clinical lead for the South Yorkshire Integrated Care System, said: “It was just a no-brainer to keep using products we knew were the same quality as others we could buy for less purely because each department procures them individually.

“We knew we had to take advantage of buying for all the hospitals at the same time; it was a lot of work but well worth it when we think of all the extra services we can use that money to provide for patients.”

Products were selected via a rigorous scoring system to guarantee that they met the necessary high standards.

Opportunities to use this process to make savings on other products are currently being considered, and NHS England says other areas in the country are considering adopting South Yorkshire’s approach.

Michael Macdonnell, director of system transformation at NHS England, who NHE recently interviewed, said the Sheffield programme demonstrates how neighbouring hospitals “can team up to improve clinical quality and reduce waste, working together as integrated systems.”

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