Saving money on hospital procurement

Posted in: About Valley Northern 18th October 2019

One wasted hospital glove may seem minor, but what if one glove was wasted in every ward of every UK hospital, every day? The NHS already spends £25 million on surgeon gloves and wasted gloves could result in thousands of pounds being lost. In a generation of funding cuts, it’s vital that hospitals save money and reduce waste. Here, Dale Pittock, sales director of healthcare consumables provider Valley Northern, discusses how hospitals can save money on hospital procurement.


Each year, the NHS spends around £27 billion on goods and services, with £9 billion spent on hospital procurement. Consumables such as gloves, aprons and hand towels are necessities in hospitals and provide huge time saving, efficiency and hygiene benefits to both staff and patients. Without these items, the way a hospital operates would be a different story. However, due to hygiene regulations and patient safety, if a consumable item has been touched without the intention of being used, it must be discarded. This means that items are wasted, and money is lost.


Facing the problem

The NHS is facing unprecedented levels of demand. By 2034, it’s expected that the UK population will reach 72 million, meaning that the number of people admitted to hospital every year will also increase. The NHS and the hospitals that operate in it it must take it upon themselves to invest in solutions that will save money, time and increase efficiency


With millions of people admitted to hospital every year, it’s essential that items like gloves, aprons and hand towels are easily available and accessible to staff.  These items protect both patients and staff from infection and give peace of mind to patients being looked after by staff.


However, working under constant time pressures can increase the chance of consumable items being wasted. For instance, a nurse could accidentally pull an extra glove from a box, and as a result, the unused glove must be thrown away to avoid contamination. If this example is multiplied across the 168 hospitals in England alone, the quantity and cost of the accrued waste is substantial.


Keeping costs down

Though there are companies in place to aid better procurement, hospitals can actively work to reduce the cost individually spent on hospital procurement through other cost-effective ways.


By using specialist providers of healthcare consumables that supply high quality items at low cost. Items like dispensers for gloves, aprons and hand towels can prove highly valuable, convenient and efficient to hospitals. Dispensers can help to ensure that only the required amount is dispensed, saving money, time, and valuable desk space.


Saving with sharps

Another money saving opportunity lies with the range of Valley Northern Pharmasafe sharps bins — an essential in any healthcare service. Sharps bins allow hospital staff to safely dispose of needles and syringes, protecting both patients and staff, and preventing harm to anyone that might come into contact with contaminated sharps outside of the facility.


However, these vital products are used on a day to day basis and can cost hospitals thousands of pounds to stock and replace. The difference with the sharps bins available from Valley Northern is that they can save hospital trusts vast amounts of money each year, compared to standard sharps bins.


The cost-effective savings that Valley Northern’s Pharmasafe sharps bins offer has meant that the bins have been selected by the NHS Supply Chain. The bins are also compliant with International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) 23907. This means that the sharps bins meet the necessary requirements for injury prevention — providing safety benefits as well as well as cost.


By using a supplier like Valley Northern that can save money on essentials like sharps bins, enables more money to be spent on other valuable areas of a hospital. For instance, cost savings on items such as sharps bins could then be reinvested and fulfil increased staffing costs or additional equipment.  This demonstrates exactly what can be achieved if each item brought into the hospital set up was carefully considered before sporadically purchased.


Hospitals should evaluate their procurement and consider how they can save money. By working with trusted suppliers that provide items to positively impact procurement, hospitals can reduce waste on valuable items, saving time and money, allowing for bigger budgets to be spent on other fundamental areas of the hospital.


Without an effective procurement system in place, one discarded glove per day could become part of a much bigger problem for hospitals in the NHS. Careful consideration into hospital consumables and dispensers could really make all the difference.

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