The regulator NHS Improvement has announced the first set of standardised products all NHS providers in England will have to use from next year, including wipes, gloves, trays, needles and bedpans.
The products account for £100m of trusts’ annual expenditure and the regulator said savings of up to 25% could be unlocked if providers committed to the scheme.
“We would very much like this to be a coalition of the willing with full compliance across the NHS”
Lord Carter’s review of NHS efficiency concluded that up to £700m could be saved by 2019-20 through better procurement if the health service used standardised specifications and catalogues to maximise volumes to get the best prices from suppliers.
Last week NHS Improvement’s new operational productivity directorate wrote to trust chief executives with the “first tranche of rationalised products”.
A procurement will be launched before the end of the year to select suppliers for the 12 products (below), which will then come on stream through NHS Supply Chain early in 2017.
- Nitrile Exam Gloves (6 Newton)
- Barrier Cream & Barrier Film
- Medical Pulp Urinals
- General Purpose Patient Dry Wipes
- Medical Pulp Bowls
- Blunt Filter Needle
- Medical Pulp Bedpans
- 10ml IV Luer Slip Syringes
- Vinyl Examination Gloves- non-pigmented & pigmented
- Blunt Fill Needle
- Medical Pulp Trays
- Non-woven island dressings
“These products account for around £100m of trust annual expenditure and we anticipate savings of up to 25% on current costs depending on market circumstances,” the letter said.
However, NHS Improvement said all trusts needed to comply with the scheme for the savings to be realised.
“For this to work, NHS Supply Chain needs to purchase on behalf of all providers so it is vital that you commit your volumes and don’t undermine the initiative by purchasing outside the contracts,” it said.
The regulator said it had found “change is effected more successfully when we work alongside you in collaboration”.
“Therefore, rather than immediately relying on more formal contractual or regulatory mechanisms to mandate compliance with this programme, we would very much like this to be a coalition of the willing with full compliance across the NHS.”
The letter asked trusts to identify any “contracts… that may delay your uptake of these products”.
NHS Improvement plans to expand the standardised list through to 2019 to cover “as much of the estimated £5bn trusts spend on products from suppliers” needed to hit Lord Carter’s £700m figure.
The letter said it will use the purchasing price index – a metric that compares trusts on the price and volume of the products they buy – to “identify non-compliance” from February.
NHS Improvement said it would “engage with non-compliant trusts to agree locally led actions to deliver full compliance”.