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“Every little helps” for the NHS

From The Telegraph:

A year ago the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee criticised the “fragmented system of procurement” saying it had produced “a great deal of waste”. Hospital trusts were being charged different amounts for the same product, “ordering in inefficient ways” and “failing to control the range of products which they purchase”.

A graphic example is that 61 trusts were found to have bought between them 1,751 different types of cannula, medical tubes that are inserted into the body, according to an earlier report by the National Audit Office.

… new plans [are being announced] to improve procurement.

They include establishing a £300 million cash fund for NHS Supply Chain, which helps buy goods and services, to enable it to bulk-buy large items like CT and MRI scanners for less money.

Areas to think about:

  • The article goes on to suggest that over £1.2bn should be saved over the next 4 years with smarter procurement. How might hospital trusts liaise with each other to ensure competitive pricing, without risking becoming a cartel?
  • What kinds of areas of healthcare expenditure benefit from economies of scale? What areas don’t? How does this impact healthcare planning?
  • What role do doctors have in helping smarter procurement?
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