NHS 'wasting £1 billion a year on supplies'

The NHS is wasting more than £1 billion of taxpayers' money a year as managers spend vastly differing amounts on the same supplies, the head of a government-backed healthcare efficiency drive claimed today.

John Neilson, managing director of NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), said cash was being needlessly squandered by health trusts who are paying multiple prices for identical equipment - ranging from stationery to surgical instruments.



He also claimed that millions could be saved by outsourcing more NHS administration overseas to countries such as India.



In an interview with The Times, Mr Neilson said: "It's scary. We actually have multiple prices being paid for the same item in the same trust, in the same month."



He claimed that NHS trusts were routinely paying as many as 19 different prices for the same pacemaker, wasting up to £750 a time.



And he said a host of other equipment such as computers were being bought at needlessly high prices - wasting around 12% of the NHS's purchasing budget.



Mr Neilson said the offenders ranged from family doctors to elite foundation hospitals and that trusts across the country were also buying a "bewildering" amount of different equipment to do the same jobs.



The health service spends around £13 billion a year on buying equipment.



"If you talk about 12% of that, it takes us into the low billions," added Mr Neilson.



"They haven't got their purchasing under control at all."



Statistics showed that 18 NHS trusts paid 22 different prices for a J&J Linear Cutter surgical tool, with the cost ranging from an average £403, to a minimum £289.



There were also 10 different prices paid for Huntleigh flowtron boots - which prevent DVT - with 17 trusts forking out an average of £2,002. However the lowest price paid was just £482.



Mr Neilson said vast amounts of money could be saved if health managers worked together to standardise equipment and exploit the bulk buying power of the NHS.



"Out of 130 trusts we work with, only 30 of them buy the most commonly bought item. And that item is a Dell PC. Even if they all bought the same PC, just think of the savings that would produce."



He also said moving some NHS services overseas would help in the drive to save £20 billion by 2014.



Call centres in India already handle invoices and other administration for some trusts at a fraction of what it would cost in the UK.



But the health chief said there was a "UK sensitivity issue" preventing more outsourcing.



NHS SBS is a joint public-private venture set up in 2005 to get the the best value-for-money by outsourcing NHS administrative functions such as finance, accounting and payroll.



It is tracking the finances of a third of NHS trusts, who are spending £31 billion annually.



A Department of Health spokesperson said NHS SBS initiatives had so far delivered savings of over £50 million, which had been reinvested in frontline patient care.



A spokesman said: "As elsewhere across Government, we are working to use purchasing power to get the best possible deal for the taxpayer. NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts are seeking substantial procurement savings in their planned efficiency savings of up to £20bn over the next four years."

Suggested Topics
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power