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25 October 2011 | Adam Leach
Linking the amount paid to NHSSupply Chain to the
price it negotiates for big pieces of equipment offers “little incentive” and
puts it at odds with making savings.
In a report published today, the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC), has
called on the Department of Health (DH) to
reshape its contract with NHS Supply Chain on purchasing high value items such
as MRI scanners.
It wants the department to look at ways of offering NHS Supply
Chain incentives to deliver savings, rather than pay it a percentage of the
negotiated price. The report said: “Surprisingly, the department’s contract with
Supply Chain allows it to charge trusts a percentage of the equipment purchase
price, which provides little incentive to negotiate lower prices with
PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge, said: “High value equipment in the
NHS, like MRI and CT scanners, is worth around £1 billion, but the way this
equipment is bought and used is not providing value for money to the taxpayer.”
The report evaluated value for money on the purchase of magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanners as well as linear accelerator
(Linac) machines. It questioned the decision to devolve the power to purchase
machines to individual NHS trusts. “We continue to question whether the system
provides value for money when foundation trusts act independently with no
explicit incentive to adopt best practice nor to work together to achieve
economies of scale,” it said.
The report also called for the department to ensure
collection and sharing of spend data on the high value items, better analysis
of usage, to enable a more effective use of resources, and increasing awareness
of framework agreements. On these the committee recommended that DH implement a
“comply or explain” clause in purchasing contracts so trusts are forced to use
the framework or justify why not.