NHS Finance

22.10.18

NHS trusts save £288m by comparing everyday essentials

NHS trusts made £288m in savings during the last financial year by buying cheap everyday essential such as syringes, toilet rolls and disposable gloves by comparing prices between trusts across the country, according to the latest figures from NHS Improvement (NHSI).

The savings show how committed the NHS is to spending public money wisely, NHSI says, with the money saved being reinvested into other services and equipment.

NHS trusts were able to make the savings using NHSI’s price comparison tool by comparing how much neighbouring trusts were paying for commonly purchased items so they could find the best suppliers and negotiate the best deals.

The comparison tool ranks the prices of over a million products and also sets a benchmark for each product to help trusts avoid paying more than they have to and make efficiency savings.

Ian Dalton said: “As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, we are driving efficiency across the sector to make sure that every penny of the additional investment does not go to waste.

“It is great that trusts are increasingly securing the best prices for their everyday essentials, like disposable gloves and syringes. This is good for patients as the money freed up can be reinvested elsewhere, and it is what taxpayers deserve.”

Trusts have also saved money by ‘clubbing together’ on some orders in order to buy in bulk, with one trust saving over £150,000 in the first month of using the tool.

A collection of 227 trusts saved £824,000 on couch rolls through a bulk order. A further £106,000 was saved on toilet rolls and £164,000 on temporary shoes.

Health minister Steve Barclay said: “As part of putting an extra £20bn a year into the NHS, it’s more important than ever that we ensure money is effectively spent and harness new technology to identify where high prices are being paid and challenge this.”

NHSI also said that there was scope for more improvements over how NHS trusts purchase items.

NHS trusts could free up £5.6m a year if they paid a minimum price for one box of examination gloves, or £3.7m nationally if they paid the minimum price for radiology syringes.

In total, NHS trusts are predicted to make overall efficiency savings of £3.4bn by the end of 2018-19.

Head of policy at NHS Providers, Amber Jabbal, said: “This data demonstrates how hard trusts are working to deliver savings wherever possible and the impressive progress already made. The money saved on everyday items used by the NHS represents real savings which can be reinvested back into patient care.

“Trusts know that there are more savings which can be made through contracts and everyday products, but these one-off savings are likely to make up a small proportion of the £3.6bn expected of the sector this year.”

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Image credit - Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/PA Images

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