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Clinical supplies - quality, safety and value at the frontline

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Nurses could both improve patient care and save the NHS money if they were handed more control over the purchasing of everyday ward equipment, according to new survey findings.

Nursing Times surveyed over 850 nurses in December on their views about procurement, as part of a joint initiative with the Royal College of Nursing and NHS Supply Chain.

The results were featured in a news story on the 18 March. The findings will inform a major new campaign to boost the influence of nursing staff in the NHS procurement process.

A big thank you to all our readers that took part in the survey.

Here are the full results from the survey:


Q1. How cost-effective do you rate the current purchasing of clinical products, such as gloves and syringes, in your organisation?Responses
Very cost-effective, there is no room for improvement7.34%
Fairly cost-effective, but there is some scope for making savings48.95%
Fairly ineffective, there is a lot of scope for saving money20.05%
Very ineffective, way too much money is wasted through poor purchasing11.66%
Don’t know12%



Q2. Have you seen areas where savings could be made by changing the clinical products you use e.g. standardisation, ideas to reduce waste?Responses
Don’t know26.79%


Q3. Should senior nurses have greater influence over what products are used to support patient care?Responses
Yes, a lot more influence60.42%
Yes, a bit more influence30.03%
No, they already have enough influence5.59%
No, they should not have any more influence1.40%
Don’t know2.56%



Q4. Would patient safety be improved if nurses had greater involvement in the purchasing process and worked more closely with clinical supplies team?Responses
Yes, a lot56.56%
Yes, a bit30.80%
Don’t know7.96%



Q5. Do you think that nurses could save money if they had greater involvement in the purchasing process and worked more closely with clinical supplies teams?Responses
Yes, a lot of savings62.94%
Yes, a small amount of savings28.47%
Don’t know5.41%



Q6. What products do you think could be more efficiently purchased in order to save money at your organisation? (tick all that apply)Responses
Disposable wipes63.79%
Incontinence products53.07%
Pressure relieving equipment44.97%
Pumps/syringe drivers32.03%
Suction Consumables31.76%




Q7. How useful would you find each of the following if you were considering how to improve safety, quality and value in your organisation by looking at the clinical supplies you buy? Please rank eachindividual option, where 1 is essential and 10 is not useful

 12345678910TotalWeighted Average
Casestudies e.g with examples of how other nursing
colleagues have made changes
FAQs e.g. Frequently asked questions about supplies and
‘How to’ guides e.g to describe how you could go about reviewing your supplies with your colleagues27.90%26.00%17.14%10.28%6.97%2.96%3.31%2.84%1.06%1.54%8462.96
Red, amber and green stickers labelling products in a stock room according to cost of the product e.g. to raise awareness of cost before selecting a product in case an equivalent but less expensive option exists36.75%23.20%12.84%6.36%6.48%2.36%3.06%2.71%2.24%4.00%8492.97
Leaflets e.g to raise awareness of how much can be saved by buying products more efficiently20.61%18.14%14.49%11.66%12.84%5.18%4.59%4.95%3.65%3.89%8493.86
Access to a buddy or other trusts e.g. which have done or are doing similar things24.64%24.53%19.55%10.07%9.72%3.67%2.37%2.49%1.78%1.18%8443.08
Access to national awards e.g. to recognise good practice in purchasing and supplies19.18%20.26%13.91%13.67%11.99%4.80%4.56%4.32%1.92%5.40%8343.82
Giveaways e.g. wall planners, mouse mats10.34%9.99%9.39%10.82%14.86%7.49%7.85%6.54%6.18%16.53%8415.49



Q8. What is the biggest barrier that prevents you from getting more involved in purchasing supplies at your organisation?Responses
There are no barriers5.16%
Lack of time28.25%
Lack of knowledge10.67%
Lack of support from employer15.24%
Lack of personal interest1.06%
I’m not allowed to get involved26.73%
I am already involved10.20%
Don’t know2.70%



Q9. Are you aware of the cost of products you use for patient care?Responses



Q10. Are you aware of any initiatives in your organisation to reduce spending on clinical products used for patient care (e.g. demand management, just in time, waste reduction)?Responses
Don’t know20.68%



Q11. How does your organisation make a decision on what products are used in patient care? (tick all that apply)Responses
Product selection/Evaluation groups25.58%
Individual team choice18.69%
Don’t know30.84%



Q12. Where are the costs of clinical products discussed? (tick all that apply)Responses
Team meetings15.07%
Product review groups14.95%
Senior meetings23.60%
Board meetings9.11%
I am not aware of any/these discussions61.57%



Q13. If ‘yes’ to the previous question, in what context are supplies discussed? (tick all that apply)Responses
We have been told to make clinical product savings as part of the organisations cost savings plans54.31%
As a team we manage the selection and use of clinical products in a proactive and organised way32.11%
Clinical products are only discussed if there is a problem with delivery or stock levels26.63%
We have regular contact with our Supplies/Procurement/Materials management team25.85%
Our organisation is supported by ‘Clinical Procurement Specialists’ who come to our meetings13.84%
We share good purchasing practice with colleagues within our immediate team20.10%
We share good purchasing practice with colleagues outside our immediate team12.01%



Q14. Do you have a choice over the brand of products you use for patient care?Responses



Q18. Which of the following best describes your role?Responses
Director of nursing1.43%
Senior nurse manager or leader10.23%
Clinical nurse specialist/nurse practitioner31.51%
Ward sister/charge nurse16.29%
Staff nurse35.20%
Healthcare assistant4.16%
Student nurse1.19%



Q19. How old are you?Responses
Over 5521.76%



Q20. Which country do you work in?Responses
Northern Ireland1.41%



Q21. Which of the following best describes the setting you work in?Responses
Acute hospital trust54.53%
Board (Scotland)0.63%
Community services24.06%
Mental health trust4.41%
GP surgery12.22%
Clinical commissioning group1.01%
University or academia1.51%
Government or other national agency1.64%


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