A common uniform across all trusts in England could save £10.8m over two years © Bill Murray/SNS Group via Getty Images
A common uniform across all trusts in England could save £10.8m over two years © Bill Murray/SNS Group via Getty Images

Standard NHS uniform in England 'could cut costs by 30%'

A standardised NHS uniform has been proposed that could lead to cost savings of 30%.

NHS Supply Chain has launched a consultation on a standardised national healthcare uniform for England, following similar moves in Scotland and Wales.

NHS Supply Chain said the process could help develop a high performing, ethical and sustainable supply chain, with a single NHS brand across the patient care pathway, providing consistency across the whole of the NHS in England.

A consultation document said adoption of a standard uniform across all trusts would save £10.8m over two years.

“A national uniform will offer a strong national identity and utilise the buying power of the NHS by delivering cost savings,” said NHS Supply Chain.

NHS Supply Chain wants to hear from healthcare assistants, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals working in hospital and non-hospital settings across the country.

NHS Supply Chain’s specialist hotel services buying function currently offers a uniform contract that provides a compliant framework from which NHS trusts specify design, style and colours.

“The adoption of a standardised approach can lead to a cost saving of around 30%. This has been determined based on the experiences from implementation within Scotland and Wales,” said the consultation document.

“The saving is subject to final garment design and market tender but is a realistic expectation based on current garment costs and the inefficiency in supply.”

The document said a national approach “provides an opportunity for more effective bulk purchasing power, resulting in significant savings, improved lead times, enhanced service levels, improved visibility of spend, reduced stock holding or duplication, and a reduction in demand over time as there will be less wastage”.

“The adoption of a central approach will provide the NHS in England with a chance to develop a more sustainable and ethical supply chain.”

A procurement project to standardise the uniform for UK ambulance workers two years ago aimed to deliver savings of £3.4m for the NHS. The project streamlined the number of different clothing items from more than 80 to just 16 to produce an estimated saving of 37% over the four-year duration of the initial framework agreement, compared to previous costs.

NHS Scotland and NHS Wales introduced a nationally standardised uniform in 2010 and NHS Northern Ireland followed in 2011.

The England consultation closes on 31 May 2021.

In 2015 a review by Lord Carter found collaborative procurement could save the NHS £1bn a year.

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