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NHS price comparison tool brings £288m savings

NHS Improvement says Trusts across England saved £288 million in the last financial year by securing the best deals for commonly bought items, such as syringes, disposable gloves, loo roll and shoe covers. The money freed up can be reinvested into other services and equipment.


The savings were made possible by a price comparison tool that allows Trusts to view the most expensive and cheapest options for over one million products. It sets a benchmark for each product to help Trusts avoid paying more than they need to.


Trusts are able to compare how much their neighbours have paid for commonly purchased items and negotiate the best deals with suppliers, and some Trusts are clubbing together on some orders and buying in bulk.


Savings include:

* £824,000 on couch rolls after 227 Trusts joined together to buy them from one supplier

* £106,000 on loo rolls after 184 Trusts joined together to buy them from one supplier

* £164,000 on temporary shoes after 141 Trusts joined together to buy them from one supplier


Trusts have been using the tool to make significant savings. The ability to identify what other Trusts are paying for exactly the same product givens them the evidence they need to renegotiate prices with their supplier. 


NHS Improvement is running training sessions until December to help Trusts to learn to use the price comparison tool. Sign up at [email protected].


“As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, we are driving efficiency across the sector to make sure that every penny of the additional investment does not go to waste.


“It is great that Trusts are increasingly securing the best prices for their everyday essentials, like disposable gloves and syringes. This is good for patients as the money freed up can be reinvested elsewhere and it is what taxpayers deserve,” says Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement.


While Trusts have made excellent progress, there is still room for further improvements to how most commonly used items are purchased, which provides scope for more savings.


For example, Trusts could free up:

* £5.6 million a year if they paid minimum price for one box of examination gloves. Prices charged for a pack of 100 examination gloves can vary from £0.65 to £1.84 currently. It is estimated that hospitals use nearly 7 million examination gloves a year. The money freed up could pay for 896 knee replacements or 790 hip replacements.

* £3.7 million nationally if they paid the minimum price for radiology syringes. Prices charged for a pack of 50 radiology syringes can vary from £324 to £553 currently. The money freed up could pay for 28 ambulances or 74 rapid response vehicles.


“As part of putting an extra £20 billion a year into the NHS, it’s more important than ever that we ensure money is effectively spent and harness new technology to identify where high prices are being paid and challenge this,” says Steve Barclay MP, Health Minister for the Department of Health and Social Care.


“Just as retail customers often use price comparison sites, we are using similar principles within the NHS to identify where trusts are paying more than others and using comparative data to drive down procurement costs.”