A change to the procurement of blood pressure cuffs saves money and improves care for patients
18 March 2019
A small change to a basic hospital product is saving thousands of pounds every month at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, as well as improving care for patients.
Single patient use blood pressure cuffs have been used in the trust for a number of years. A request for a particular type of cuff for isolated patients triggered a ‘compare and save’ review. The review found that although the products used were the cheapest in the NHS Supply Chain catalogue, the spend on cuffs was over £9,000 per month – a 31% increase on the previous year.
It also found that use of single patient use cuffs – where a cuff is for just one patient – varied across the wards and hospitals. For example:
- one admission unit used five times the number used at their counterpart in a different hospital within the trust
- the average effective life of single patient use cuffs is a week. However, some were not dated so it was impossible to say how long cuffs had been in use.
As well as addressing these issues, the trust introduced a simple system of using the single patient use cuffs with patients in isolated settings, and non-isolated patients having reusable blood pressure cuffs. Training was provided for staff to make sure they understood the changes.
NHS Supply Chain supported the trust in delivering significant savings resulting from the new system. Spend on cuffs fell significantly from over £9,000 per month to a consistent monthly spend of around £3,000.
The changes also led to a number of improvements in patient care and staff efficiency. For instance, blood pressure measurement accuracy improved, and the clinical engineering team now spends less time dealing with reports of equipment failure.
Dagma Neal, Clinical Procurement Specialist at the trust, commented, “Our simplified system means that staff are able to use the right product in the right place at the right time. This is clearly better for patients as well as making considerable savings which can be ploughed back into patient care.”
Reviewing products and simplifying systems in this way can be replicated in trusts across the country, with the potential to make big savings for the NHS.
Notes to editors
All information in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.
NHS Supply Chain supports the National Health Service and other healthcare organisations in England and Wales by providing end to end supply chain solutions.
NHS Supply Chain is managed by Supply Chain Co-ordination Ltd, a limited company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The management function went live on 1 April 2018 and manages the performance of the 11 category tower service providers along with the logistics and IT providers.
NHS Supply Chain manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products and food for NHS trusts and healthcare organisations. It provides a single point of access to over 316,000 nationally available, transactable lines ranging from bandages to sutures, from gloves to implants, and surgical equipment. In addition, it can help plan investments in medical capital equipment such as MRI scanners, linear accelerators and patient monitors.
Its management of the procurement process negates an NHS organisation’s need to tender through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Costs can also be reduced through its one-route solution that consolidates all products onto one invoice and delivery.
To ensure that its products are fit for today’s healthcare market, NHS Supply Chain works with suppliers of all sizes to ensure its range embraces high quality and innovative products; and engages with clinicians, the Department of Health and Social Care and academic institutions to make sure that it is aware of the current requirements and latest developments in clinical practice.
NHS Supply Chain’s product areas include:
- Ward based Consumables
- Sterile Intervention Equipment and Associated Consumables
- Infection Control and Wound Care
- Orthopaedics, Trauma and Spine and Ophthalmology
- Diagnostic, Pathology and Therapy Technologies and Services
- Rehabilitation, Disabled Services, Women’s Health and Associated Consumables
- Cardiovascular, Radiology, Endoscopy, Audiology and Pain Management
- Large Diagnostic Capital Equipment including Mobile and Services
- Office Solutions
- Catering, including food
- Hotel Services