DoH to rank NHS hospitals in ‘procurement league tables’

9 Nov 17

NHS hospitals are to be ranked according to how much they are spending on goods and services, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

The procurement league table is an attempt to reduce how much the NHS is charged by suppliers and help save up to £300m a year.

Hunt said the NHS was a very efficient service but there was no room for complacency, speaking at the NHS Providers conference in Birmingham yesterday.

“There is still baffling variation in the prices that hospitals are paying for supplies, with many paying over the odds for the same products sold more cheaply at a neighbouring trust,” he said.

“We want to support the NHS to save money wherever possible so it can be reinvested into frontline services, making sure taxpayers get the best value from the government’s investment in the NHS.”

Despite ongoing efforts to secure procurement efficiencies, the Department of Health said there was still wide variation in prices paid, with some trusts paying more than double for items like surgical scalpels.

For instance, prices paid for a single pack of 12 rubber gloves can vary from 35p to £16.47, while the cost of a hip implant go from £761 to £3,669.

Currently trusts strike individual agreements with suppliers, however, they will soon be able to join a national NHS Supply Chain to take advantage of aggregated buying power and negotiate best deals on price and quality.

The league table shows that the bottom five trusts could save over £11m if they bought supplies at the best prices.

At the same conference, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens made a headline-grabbing plea for more funds for the health service.

Stevens cited the suggestion by the Leave campaign during last year’s EU referendum campaign that the £350m weekly Brexit dividend be invested in the NHS.

“The NHS wasn’t on the ballot paper, but it was on the ballot bus, ‘Vote Leave for a better funded health service, £350m a week’,” he said.

“Rather than our criticising these clear Brexit funding commitments to NHS patients - promises entered into by cabinet ministers and by MPs - the public want to see them honoured.”

Stevens’ call was endorsed by Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

“Now this chorus [for more funding] includes not just those running the system but also the government's own arms-length bodies, its own regulator and those delivering and receiving care,” Dickson said.

“Given the precarious state of the service, the NHS Confederation’s view is that £4bn a year will be required just to sustain the NHS in England for each of the next two years, a view that has now been endorsed by the leading think-tanks.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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