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To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) what his policy is on allowing all hospital trusts in England to decide what consumables they buy;
(2) whether he has assessed the possibility for greater efficiency savings in the procurement of consumables by NHS acute and foundation trusts in England;
(3) what consideration he has given to (a) intervening, (b) directing or (c) providing guidance to NHS acute and foundation trusts on reducing the cost of the procurement of consumables.
All trusts are aiming to be independent of the Department's direct control by April 2014, i.e. becoming national health service foundation trusts. Accountability for effective procurement will sit primarily with their boards. The Department's strategy on procurement of goods and services (including consumables) is to develop trusts into better informed clients, able to make decisions based on improved and more transparent data and able to make better use of regional and national procurement organisations such as NHS Supply Chain.
To this end, the Department has been working with organisations such as Monitor and the Foundation Trust Network as well and holding workshops to support the NHS in delivering £1.2 billion in savings on procurement of goods and services under the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) workstream. This applies exclusively to NHS providers—NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts.
These savings are to come in four main areas:
reducing price variation (all providers to use best available prices): £598 million; efficiencies in back office organisation: £65 million; improved use and management of stock: £283 million; and clinical efficiencies (release of time for more direct clinical work): £142 million.
To support this, the Department is currently working on the finalising of key performance indicators to be introduced by April 2012 which can successfully measure improvements made by trusts in the management of their non-pay spend. The new strategy based around the work strands of greater transparency on pricing; promoting and improving the national collaborative bodies such as NHS Supply Chain; and product standardisation and rationalisation, as mentioned above are currently being consulted on within the NHS will be formally launched by April 2012.