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Pioneering price match scheme frees up millions for frontline care

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by Ian Snug.
Pioneering price match scheme frees up millions for frontline care

Doctors have freed up millions of pounds to fund frontline care by banding together to create a pioneering ‘price match’ scheme.

The scheme will drive down the cost of simple items such as anti-embolism stockings and surgical gloves.

The clinician-led scheme in Sheffield saw staff and patients work closely across seven hospitals to agree on the best product and commit to bulk buy jointly to save money.

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The hospitals had been using a variety of brands and paying different prices for the same products which all did the same job.

Evaluation of the products takes place to ensure there is no difference in the standard of care for patients as a result of a switch to the most cost effective product and robust opportunities for staff to make any concerns heard are in place.

By committing to buy a larger quantity of product thanks to the collaboration, 11 products were changed leading to savings of £2 million, including a saving of £400 thousand alone by switching to one type of examination glove.

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.

“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 that they met the high 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.

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 Yorkshire’s approach.

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 £2m which can now be reinvested into better patient care.”

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Patients will suffer as NHS deficit spirals out of control

NHSI blamed acute hospitals for the overspend due to an increased patient demand.

Published on

by Chloe Dawson.
Patients will suffer as NHS deficit spirals out of control

NHS trusts in England have reported a combined financial deficit of nearly twice the amount planned.

The figures, released by NHS Improvement, showed a system under systematic strain and an NHS deficit of £960m in the last financial year - nearly double what the organisation had planned for.

NHS Improvement pointed out that 156 of the 234 trusts finished the year either reaching or exceeding their financial targets and said that acute hospitals were responsible for the overspend due to an increased patient demand. It added that other NHS organisations including ambulance services and mental health trusts had collectively underspent.

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During January, February and March alone, there were 1.1 million people who attended A&E who needed to be admitted for treatment – 70,000 more than the same period last year.

Heavily reliance on temporary workers.

The Royal College of Nursing has said that the chronic staffing shortage is partly to blame for the overspend with high vacancy rates and a heavy reliance on expensive temporary workers.

Offical figures show the sector is faced with 92,694 staffing vacancies - including 35,794 nursing vacancies and 9,982 medical vacancies.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures reveal both sides of the same coin – a cash-starved NHS forced to run without enough staff to treat people safely. For as long as hospitals remain £1 billion in the red, patients will pay a heavy price.

“The number of nurses missing from England’s NHS remains stubbornly high – hospitals cannot afford to recruit and inadequate numbers are being trained too.

“Theresa May and Philip Hammond cannot allow this financial knife-edge to continue. Whether the Chancellor announces the extra funding in time for the NHS anniversary this summer or waits until the Autumn Budget, it must be both substantial and genuinely new money. It would not be enough just to wipe these deficits – health and care budgets must be boosted to reflect genuine demand. Anything less exposes patients to unacceptable risks and leaves care increasingly unsafe.”

'Incredible resilience'

Ian Dalton, Chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: "Despite epic challenges, NHS staff up and down the country displayed incredible resilience and saw more patients than ever before within four hours.

"More than two-thirds of providers ended the year on budget or better than planned. Given rising demand and record vacancies, this is an important achievement."

Chris Hopson, Chief executive of NHS Providers claims a 5% annual increase in NHS funding is needed to maintain the same levels of care seen in Europe.

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Primary Care

RCN launches first-ever protocol for animals in healthcare

The protocol will help hospitals and other health settings introduce animals into the environment.

Published on

by Ian Snug.
RCN launches first-ever protocol for animals in healthcare

The Royal College of Nursing has launched the first-ever nationwide protocol for animals in health care.

The protocol will provide an evidence-based best practice criteria so that hospitals and other health settings can introduce animals into the care environment.

By following the RCN’s protocol, services will be able to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare staff as well as the animals and their owners, whilst allowing patients to reap the benefits that interaction with animals can bring.

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The project was prompted by an RCN survey last year which found that although the majority of respondents thought animals were hugely beneficial to patients, most nurses said animals were not allowed in their workplace.

Animals improve care.

Research has shown how animals can improve patient care. The RCN survey found that nine out of ten (90%) nurses believe animals can improve the health of patients with depression and other mental health problems, and 60% said the presence of animals could speed patient recovery.

At the launch event, Lyndsey Uglow, a pioneer in animal therapy, will discuss how she and her golden retriever Leo have changed the lives of hundreds of children at Southampton Hospital.

The development of the new protocol was led by RCN professional lead for long-term conditions and end-of-life care, Amanda Cheesley.

Amanda said: “Anyone who’s worked in this area can see the amazing impact animals have on the health of adults and children alike. However, there are so many myths around the dangers of having animals in health care settings that most organisations are too concerned to try it out.

“This protocol will help to dispel these fears by supporting hospitals to include animals in the care they deliver in a safe and professional way. We hope that it will encourage all health services to consider how animals can help their patients and help us to remove the taboo from what is a really remarkable area of care.”

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MPs to debate 'co-pay' system for the NHS

The bill would see an increase in the use of 'co-payment' charges throughout the NHS.

Published on

by Ian Snug.
MPs to debate 'co-pay' system for the NHS

The proposed bill would see the NHS set charge fees for some services.

Sir Christopher Chope OBE, a Barrister and the Conservative MP for Christchurch, is proposing a bill that would see an increase in the use of 'co-payment' charges throughout the National Health Service (NHS).

Co-payment is currently used for dental treatments, eye tests and prescription charges but experts have warned that the bill would open the floodgates to charging for a range of other services including GPs appointments and minor operations.

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Recent changes to NHS prescribing guidelines has shown that the 'co-pay' system is far from perfect.

MPs to debate 'co-pay' system for the NHS

Christopher Chope

The National Health Service (Co-Funding and CoPayment) Bill would “make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England” and this will be the second reading of the bill.

MPs are set to debate the proposed bill today.

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said: “Once again we see the Tories’ true colours.

“At a time when the NHS is going through the biggest funding squeeze in its history and more than four million people are waiting for treatment, Tory MPs are proposing a two-tier system where those who can afford it get treated first.

“Labour’s first priority will be to give the NHS the funding it needs to protect an NHS free at the point of use for everyone who needs it.”

Sir Chope has previously tabled a range of other controversial bills.

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