Sheffield hospitals save £2million by bulk buying the same 11 products

The Northern General Hospital, in Sheffield
The Northern General Hospital, in Sheffield
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Switching to using one type of examination glove has led to a saving of £400,000 by Sheffield hospitals after they collaborated on a price matching scheme.

The seven city hospitals taking part in the initiative achieved a total saving of £2 million, simply by choosing the same 11 products and buying them in bulk, rather than all buying different brands.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in Sheffield

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in Sheffield

It comes after it emerged there are huge disparities in how much hospital trusts are paying for everyday items, with some paying more than double the price for equipment such as surgical scalpels.

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In November, Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced hospital trusts would be put into a league table to help them compare prices and save money on equipment procurement.

In Sheffield, hospitals had previously been using a variety of brands and paying different prices for the same products which all did the same job, but they worked closely together to agree on the best items such as anti-embolism stockings and surgical gloves, which could then be bought in bulk.

Professor Des Breen, clinical lead for the South Yorkshire Integrated Care System, said: "It was just a no-brainer to keep using products we knew were the same quality as others we could buy for less purely because each department procures them individually.

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"We knew we had to take advantage of buying for all the hospitals at the same time; it was a lot of work but well worth it when we think of all the extra services we can use that money to provide for patients."

A scoring system was used on all of the products to make sure they met the standard needed for use by the NHS, and the product which met all of these and was deemed the best value for money was chosen.

NHS England said further opportunities to use the process to make savings on other products are being scoped out and other areas across the country are considering using South Yorkshires approach.

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Michael Macdonnell, director of system transformation at NHS England, said: "The South Yorkshire programme demonstrates how neighbouring hospitals can team up to improve clinical quality and reduce waste, working together as integrated systems. It also shows what can be achieved when clinicians take charge.

"But perhaps most impressive is that the team has already saved £2 million which can now be reinvested into better patient care."