Process changes ‘could save NHS hundreds of millions’

7 Aug 17

The NHS could save hundreds of millions of pounds by improving the level of care provided, reducing infection rates and optimising procurement, a study has found.

The report from the Getting It Right First Time Programme (GIRFT), funded by the Department of Health, found that significant savings of up to £1.4bn annually by 2021 could be achieved simply by changing procedures in hospitals.

One example was a potential saving of £108m if the NHS could reduce the amount of people unnecessarily admitted for emergency general surgery.

This could be achieved through the introduction of consultant-led surgical assessments at more acute hospitals, according to the review.

Analysis by GIRFT shows this change could lead to up to 30% fewer general surgery emergency admissions a year where no operation is delivered.

The NHS currently spends £361m on these procedures every year.

This is one of 20 recommendations from the report which sets out ways to provide better outcomes for patients, and eliminate unwarranted differences between hospitals in areas such as effective procedures, length of stay, infection rates and procurement costs.

Report author John Abercrombie reviewed data from all acute hospitals in England and visited 50 general surgery departments before forming his recommendations.

He said: “GIRFT’s focus on identifying unwarranted variation provided us with the opportunity to understand why differences exist, discuss the challenges trusts face and look for ways to improve services which will benefit patients and make trusts more efficient.

“My recommendations provide a blueprint for better care that will be good for patients and good for the NHS.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed what he called an “excellent” report and hailed those hospitals already “working smarter with their money” but stressed that more could be done.

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