9 June 2011 | Angeline Albert
NHS could save more than £1 billion a year on estate running costs partly
through better procurement, according to a report by consultancy EC Harris.
annual study, NHS Service and Estate Efficiency Report: Seizing the Opportunity, was
published yesterday and sent to all NHS trusts in England.
It said benchmarking
both Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and non-PFI services highlighted
opportunities to standardise and rationalise supply chains.
The report said soft
facilities management (FM) services, in particular cleaning, has seen
significant increases in cost per square metre. It said in the case of cleaning
to prevent the spread of bugs, rising costs were the result of a risk-adverse
climate that is leading trusts to “over specify as an insurance policy” rather
than based on actual need. “Hybrid versions of standards and specifications are
developing resulting in unit rates for services which ultimately become difficult
to compare on a like-for-like basis,” the report added.
It went on to say that
“all too often trust boards are ignoring the major efficiency opportunities
that exist, placing such issues in the ‘too difficult box’”.
The National Audit Office concluded in an
NHS report in February that at least 10 per cent of hospitals’ spending on
consumables, amounting to some £500 million a year, could be saved if trusts purchased
products in a more collaborative way. Commenting on that report, the EC Harris
document said: “This will mean reducing flexibility in order to achieve better
prices through standardisation.”
EC Harris said NHS
trusts should benchmark themselves against the best performing health trusts to
improve performance. It also said a 50 per
cent reduction of empty or underutilised space would yield a saving of £248.73
million a year from the FM budget and energy savings.
“The key to success
remains as ever: access to comparison data; a willingness to look at
alternative estate delivery and FM models; and the ability to drive
implementation. We are currently working with a number of trusts and PCTs,
where there are clear opportunities for seven figure savings,” the report said.