A team set up to help the NHS buy products that are safer and provide more cost-effective higher-quality outcomes has revealed its findings in four product areas.
The NHS Clinical Evaluation Team (CET) was formally unveiled at the Nursing Times Directors’ Congress in Manchester in May this year.
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Last Friday, it released an initial four reports at an event in London, looking at hypodermic luer slip syringes, blunt drawing up devices with and without filter, open suction catheters and suction tubing, and examination gloves.
The four reports, now published on the CET website, do not provide a definitive answer to buying one single product, but instead offer advice on which products are clinically proven to work best in particular settings.
The reports are based on evidence gathered from nurses and other clinicians on how the products were used in clinical practice, a literature search of the evidence available about them and product evaluation.
“Making savings this way was a much better alternative to cuts”
The NHS CET then produced a star rating system for the different products based on key criteria. More reports are set to follow on other product areas in 2017.
The NHS CET consists of nine clinicians from across the country, with various clinical specialties and areas of expertise.
It is spearheaded by Mandie Sunderland, chief nurse at Nottingham Universities Hospitals NHS Trust, and Naomi Chapman, who has been seconded from the Royal College of Nursing to work as the NHS CET clinical programme lead.
Ms Chapman, who originally shared her concept with Nursing Times in 2014, described the launch event at the RCN’s headquarters as a “landmark day”.
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It was the first time that clinicians had been asked to evaluate products on a national stage and provide their input into how and why they used the product, and what they wanted it to do, she said.
She added that it was the first “independent, clinical evaluation at a national level”.
Ms Sunderland highlighted how she had been keen to support the project because it could make savings that could be reinvested in the nursing workforce.
“For every £30,000 we saved, that’s a band 5 nurse and that really engaged the frontline nursing workforce at a time when financial pressures were starting to bite in the NHS,” she said.
“Making savings this way was a much better alternative to cuts,” stated Ms Sunderland.
She noted that when initially introduced to the concept, she was chief nurse at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham.
“We saved £760,000 in just over six months, just by standardising anti-embollism stockings, gloves and slide sheets,” she said.
“I knew then if I could do it at my acute trust, it could be done on a national level, and that is what we are trying to do here,” she added.
Other speakers at the launch were keen to emphasise that the work was not just about making financial savings.
Ben Shaw, head of procurement and supplies at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “It’s not just about price, [but about quality and outcomes], and it saves time if you work through the clinical evaluation up front.”
The first four CET reports:
Open suction catheters and suction tubing
Blunt drawing up devices with and without filter
Syringes - hypodermic luer slip