The NHS is to have its own price comparison website as part of measures aimed at saving £1.5 billion a year on what it pays for basic supplies and temporary staff.
The Government announced a new “Procurement Development Programme” designed to cut wasteful spending and end the “scandalous situation” where hospital resource managers have no idea if they are getting a good deal or not.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said the Government is introducing a league table where hospitals would be ranked on who can get the best deals for supplies, and added that managers should approach their roles as if they were on the TV programme Bargain Hunt.
Announcing the new scheme today, Dr Poulter said: “We must end the scandalous situation where one hospital spends hundreds of thousands more than another hospital just down the road on something as simple as rubber gloves or syringes, simply because they haven’t got the right systems in place to ensure value for money for local patients.”
As part of a new system of greater openness and accountability, hospitals will be forced for the first time to publish all their records of what they pay for goods and services.
And this greater public accountability will be backed up by a newly appointed NHS “procurement champion”, who will be given “the authority to drive better procurement practices across the whole of the NHS”.
Today’s strategy plan also took aim at temporary staffing costs for the NHS, which currently cost the taxpayer £2.4 billion a year.
Dr Poulter pledged to cut this bill by a quarter by the end of 2016. He said the focus must be on how the worst hospitals, which spend as much as 10 per cent of their staffing budgets on temporary staff, could learn from the best.
“The Government is putting an extra £12.7 billion into our NHS but that money needs to be spent much more wisely by local hospitals,” Dr Poulter said.
“When our NHS is the single biggest organisation in the UK, hospitals must wake up to the potential to make big savings and radically change the way they buy supplies, goods, services and how they manage their estates.”
And he wrote in an article for the Telegraph: “I’m not expecting a David Dickinson in every hospital, but if we want to cut waste in our NHS and divert more money into frontline patient care, the health service needs to know a good bargain when it sees one.”