National Audit Office reveals disparities in UK hospital medical gear costs | Politics | News | EUROtoday

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NAO reveals disparities in UK hospital medical gear value (Image: Getty)

Some hospitals are nonetheless paying double the worth for medical gear in contrast with others, the spending watchdog has warned.

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated that “trusts pay a wide range of prices for the same product, with some trusts paying twice as much for the same item”.

While some hospitals spent £15 for every bone noticed blade they bought in 2022/23, others forked out £33.

A transportable touchscreen bladder scanner value £6,591 for some hospitals and in others the identical merchandise got here with a price ticket of £12,760.

And a alternative hip “stem part” value £490 for some hospitals, whereas others paid simply £258.

The NAO stated that the NHS in England is “not making the most of its spending power to save money”.

The well being service in England spends round £8 billion yearly shopping for objects corresponding to paper, gloves, prosthetic hips and different medical gear.

But greater than a 3rd of this cash is being spent by NHS organisations independently, and never by central collective buying routes the place merchandise may very well be cheaper.

The NHS Supply Chain – a central procurement physique – sources, buys and provides medical gear and consumables to hospital trusts.

It was established following a 2016 report which discovered that some hospitals have been paying twice as a lot as others for some medical provides.

The system was arrange in 2017.

While it’s not necessary to make use of the system for procurement, a brand new NAO report highlighted that the NHS spends round £3.4 billion exterior NHS Supply Chain every year.

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The NAO stated NHS Supply Chain has used totally different strategies to report financial savings to totally different audiences, which “could cause confusion”.

It added: “Some NHS trusts themselves said that they did not recognise NHS Supply Chain’s claimed savings and this issue is causing frustration and mistrust.”

The report additionally highlighted that in 2022/23 NHS Supply Chain didn’t at all times have the most affordable merchandise.

The lowest value paid for a respiration valve and mouthpiece was £155, however those that bought these things by the central system paid £185.

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Insulin supply units value £196 for some hospitals, however these buying by the NHS Supply Chain paid £235.

For numerous units highlighted within the report NHS Supply Chain did present merchandise on the lowest value, together with bone noticed blades and alternative hip stem components.

The NAO report concludes: “While Supply Chain has the potential to secure further savings for the NHS, it is not yet fulfilling that potential.”

“Delivering the right products for the NHS at the cheapest sustainable price is essential to make every pound count for patients.”

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO stated: “The NHS has enormous buying power, but it is not yet making the most of it.”

“Supply Chain needs to do more to deliver, and to show that it is delivering, for the NHS.”

“In response, trusts need to make use of the NHS’s buying power to secure the lower costs Supply Chain can bring, with support and clear direction from NHSE.”

Commenting on the report, Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, stated: “The NHS collectively spends around £8 billion annually on purchasing medical equipment and consumables but is not making the most of its spending power to save money.”

“Trusts currently spend approximately £3.4 billion outside of NHS Supply Chain, partly because Supply Chain’s systems and processes do not work well for all its customers.”

“NHS Supply Chain needs to persuade trusts to use it to purchase goods – optimising prices, simplifying ordering and delivering reliably – to give the best value for patients.”

NHS England and NHS Supply Chain have been approached for remark.