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How an NHS trust doubled its original target of making £1m medicine cost savings


By Awil Mohamoud
Reporter
2 June 2020

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North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust achieved more than double its medicine cost-saving target, helping to invest in vital clinical equipment and move the NHS further towards the system-wide goal of financial stability. 

The trust originally set out to make a saving of £1 million for the 2019/20 financial year, but reduced costs by £2.4 million after creating multidisciplinary workstreams to work towards medicines cost savings and quality improvement initiatives.   

The teams made savings through medicine switches (in collaboration with consultant medical colleagues), making processes more robust to minimise medicine waste, conducting a clinical audit of outpatient prescribing, working with third-party homecare companies and ensuring compliance with best value regional contracts. 

The trust used the Model Hospital dashboard to highlight medicines with potential for efficiency savings.

These savings have ‘contributed directly to improving the quality of patient care and experience’, the Trust said. It has enabled the organisation to replace two scanners, so it could see more patients as well as improve patient care through investment in clinical pharmacy and medicines safety. 

Making efficiencies has also helped the trust become more financially stable and has benefitted the wider NHS system. The amount the NHS spends on medicines in England has grown from an estimated £13 billion in 2010/11 to around £19 billion. Excluding staffing costs, this accounts for the NHS’ greatest expense.  

Hospitals account for almost half of the NHS’ total spending on medicines, with expenses growing at around 12% each year. 

National policies on medicines have aimed to balance the competing goals of giving patients prompt access to effective therapies, incentivising pharmaceutical companies to undertake research to develop new medicines, and ensuring affordability within the NHS. 

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust medical director and deputy chief executive, Dr Deepak Dwarakanath, said: ‘The streamlining of our medicines and the associated costs is absolutely critical in ensuring that public funding is utilised appropriately for our clinical services.  

‘As an organisation focused on delivering good care, we must follow robust quality processes, ensuring that we are getting the best value for money whilst satisfying the needs of our patients.’

Director of medicines optimisation and chief pharmacist, Dr Mojgan H Sani, said: ‘Medicines are the most frequent intervention in the NHS and getting the best value from medicines through effective clinical pharmacy and engagement with the multidisciplinary team in unity have been critical in our processes. I am really proud of my team’s achievements within the NHS.’

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