Campaign aims to involve nurses in NHS procurement

16 April 2015

New guidance aims to improve the involvement of nursing staff in helping trusts purchase and use key clinical supplies.

NHS Supply Chain, the Clinical Procurement Specialist Network and the Royal College of Nursing, have created the Small Changes, Big Differences campaign. It aims to make savings and promote patient safety by providing interactive tools and sharing best practice to harness the knowledge and expertise in the NHS.

The campaign includes a toolkit with best practice guidelines providing information about how to get the most out of working with procurement teams, and suggestions on how to take action.

There are also tips to help nurses implement the campaign in their trust, and case studies of trusts that have reduced spend through collaborative purchasing, and prevented waste and saved money by swapping in date clinical supplies with other departments, as well as standardising product ranges to reduce waste and cost.

There is also a Traffic Light Support System, which helps nurses to label products in their stock rooms to raise awareness of their cost before selection, driving efficiencies without creating any extra work.

The campaign follows a survey of nurses on their purchasing practices, which indentified a need for them to work more closely with their trust procurement teams.

In the survey, 87 per cent of nurses said patient safety could be improved if nurses had greater involvement in the purchasing process. Some 91 per cent said that it would also help save money.

According to the survey, nurses said the biggest barriers to getting involved in the purchase of clinical supplies were a lack of time, knowledge, support or that they were not allowed to.

More than 80 per cent of nursing staff said they thought there was scope to save money in their organisation.

NHS Supply Chain said there were thousands of products in the healthcare market, which vary in cost and could also vary in performance. By empowering nurses to get involved with purchasing decisions the most suitable products will be bought at the best price, it said.

Mandie Sunderland, chief nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, who is leading the campaign, said: “There has never been a better time to look at what nurses are buying and find those opportunities to save money, which will at the same time help protect patient safety and reduce the amount of waste in medical products. As the individuals at the heart of this process, we as nurses are in the best possible position to influence it.”

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