Impacts case study
Our 2011 report on the procurement of consumables by NHS acute and foundation trusts concluded that trusts were paying widely varying prices for the same products, and that there was a need for much greater transparency in the prices being paid to suppliers by individual trusts. We recommended that the Department of Health require the NHS to adopt standard product bar coding to improve procurement data and enable price comparisons. This would help trusts to improve their financial sustainability through cost savings.
What are impacts?
The department recognised that our study was a powerful lever for change and committed to adopt a standard product coding system for the NHS. In July 2014, it launched the ‘NHS Procurement Atlas of Variation’, which shows differences in the amount hospital trusts pay for everyday items including catheters, gloves and needles. This tool helps hospitals to compare prices and identify where they need to drive down costs so they can invest more in improving front line services.