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Carter’s £5bn cost-saving plan needs a “relentless focus on value,” says health leader


11 June 2015

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Lord Carter’s report today revealed how £5bn can be saved in hospitals, by better spending for everyday items, and more efficient staff management.

Lord Carter, a member of the House of Lords, spent a year working with 22 hospitals in order to outline cost inefficiencies for the government.

The review also revealed that there was huge differences in the amount of money paid for basic items, such as gloves, medicines, and hip replacements, and that savings in this area could save £17m a year.

Lord Carter’s report today revealed how £5bn can be saved in hospitals, by better spending for everyday items, and more efficient staff management.

Lord Carter, a member of the House of Lords, spent a year working with 22 hospitals in order to outline cost inefficiencies for the government.

The review also revealed that there was huge differences in the amount of money paid for basic items, such as gloves, medicines, and hip replacements, and that savings in this area could save £17m a year.

Latex gloves cost £5.44 a box in one hospital, but another hospital bought them for £2.39, for example. Similarly the report said that one hospital saved £40,000 a year by using 2p non-soluble versions of a tablet for liver failure instead of £1.50 soluble type.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The dilemma for the NHS is that hospital trusts operate autonomously: there is a very fine line between trusts using their market power and moving towards a standardised approach which can create a huge state bureaucracy that is inflexible to change.

“Properly solving this problem will need both a relentless focus on value for money in every single trust,” he said.

Following the publication of this report, Lord Carter will publish a template for an efficient "model hospital" this summer, and a report by September in which he and the Department of Health will outline how much each hospital is expected to save by putting in place the report's recommendations.

Edwards said: “For many areas, it isn’t just a matter of buying new or different supplies. Surgeons and other clinicians are trained to use particular types of equipment, which means there are significant potential training costs if these are changed. These are perennial issues for the NHS, and perhaps explain why this is the third big review of procurement in just over a decade.”

 

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