Hospitals can save £5 billion by reducing clinical variation, says Lord Carter

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
21 October 2015

Hospitals in England could save £5 billion by reducing variation in the way operations and treatments are carried out, according to Lord Carter.

Lord Carter, appointed NHS procurement champion last year, said by adopting best practice, including reducing supplier costs for medical devices, hospitals could improve efficiency and patient care.

His comments follow a review of all NHS hospitals covering areas including clinical costs, infection rates, readmission rates and device and procedure selection, which found “huge variations” between trusts.

Carter said at North Bristol NHS Trust it was found doctors were using many similar replacement prostheses, but by “improving procurement and clinical practice they could buyer fewer types of replacement in larger quantities” and save around £277,000 a year.

Carter is now starting to contact each of England’s 137 acute hospital trusts to give them individual savings targets and “share detailed plans which show how and where they can improve patient care and become more efficient”.

Lord Carter said: “Our best hospitals offer patients an excellent service and they are up there with the very best in the world and we want to make sure all NHS hospitals meet these high standards of care.

“The route to better care is to empower NHS leaders, so giving them the data and support they need means they can improve how they care for patients and make savings which can be re-invested in frontline care. Patients will be the real winners.”

In June Lord Carter said better procurement could save the NHS £1 billion a year.

Meanwhile, professor Tim Briggs, a consultant at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust, has been appointed national director for clinical quality and efficiency for the NHS.

"In light of the financial austerity the NHS faces, we have a duty to make sure that we reduce unwanted variation and complications, in order that our resources can provide patients with the high quality care they require," he said.

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