A senior nurse has helped procurement in the surgical department at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust deliver £1.2 million of savings so far this financial year.
Michelle Winfield, a senior sister, took on the role of clinical procurement manager in October 2014 and has since introduced more efficient medical equipment and better storage methods.
She saved a combined £400,000 by changing the brand of sutures and latex gloves the surgical department used and moving to a new technique for treating broken ribs, which speeds patient recovery. This work has contributed to the department already hitting its financial year savings target of £1.2 million.
Winfield, who has worked at the trust for more than 30 years, said: “The key to this working is involving clinical staff in the choices and changes.
"To date we have made amazing savings with products already in the system by standardising across theatres, taking new ideas from the staff and researching quality and costs.
“We are finding that equipment does not always need to be the cheapest – my father always used to say: ‘buy cheaply, spend twice’. But it does need to be the most cost effective.
“For instance the rib matrix set means patients with fractured ribs can leave hospital at least seven days earlier and return to work within three months, whereas before some would never return to work. This means there are huge benefits to the patient and cost benefits to our healthcare system."
Andy McMinn, chief procurement officer at the trust, said while clinicians were involved in the procurement process previously, Winfield was the first to take on a formal role after he convinced stakeholders of the value it could bring. He said they were planning further similar posts.
"We were still delivering brilliant savings, but if you want to take it to this level, this is what you need," he said.
“We have always been pushing in the procurement process that clinicians are leading it and we are the glue that binds it all together."
James Leaver, a category manager who is in charge of surgical spend, said: “My belief is that without Michelle’s input to the sutures project we would never have got it through to the level we have.
"What is crucial is that this is a clinically-led project, in partnership with procurement and finance. We are seeing a real sea change in attitude with people no longer taking the historic view that procurement and finance are ‘imposing’ changes on clinical staff.
“Because of the success of this project we are now inundated with calls from regional and national organisations asking us how we have delivered the project.”