Tens of millions to be reinvested in patient care thanks to NHS devices deal

NHS England has today announced a new nationwide system for purchasing expensive medical devices and implants which will see savings of over £60 million ploughed back into specialist care in its first two years.

Currently NHS England spends £500 million a year reimbursing specialist units for devices such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) for people with abnormal heart rhythms, bone-anchored hearing aids and bespoke prosthetics.

There are wide variations in the prices hospital trusts pay for the same products, and in the rates of adoption and usage of devices across the country.

A single national approach for purchasing and supplying these devices has now been agreed between NHS England and NHS Business Services Authority. The new system for hospital trusts to order devices for specialist services will be operated by NHS Supply Chain.

By taking a more rigorous commercial approach, the advantage of economies of scale and reducing price variations, it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds can be saved from the  annual cost of devices currently being purchased – savings which will be reinvested into other specialist services and treatments.

In future, it is also expected that a national supply chain will improve access for patients to new technologies by allowing novel and effective devices, with proven effectiveness and value to be adopted quickly, easily and at the best price.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, Director of Specialised Commissioning said: “Building on the findings of Lord Carter’s review on productivity and the needs of our patients there is an imperative for specialised services to ensure that every pound of public money delivers the greatest possible benefit to patients.

“By bearing down on price and quality variation and making the most of our national purchasing power, NHS England will now be able to deliver these same high-cost devices for less, freeing up funding to help meet the increasing demands on specialised services from new and effective treatments.”

Whilst all products currently used will continue to be available to clinicians under the new system, further expected benefits will come from working with clinical colleagues to improve clinical practice and device optimisation, as clinicians will be able to choose the optimum device for the patient based on evidence. The data collected will also allow comparisons to be made between equivalent devices in terms of quality, outcomes, value for money and effectiveness to drive further improvements for patients.

All Trusts currently purchasing these high-cost devices will be contacted by NHS England and NHS Supply Chain in a phased approach from April 2016. NHS Supply Chain will provide a full programme of support to each Trust to ensure a smooth migration over to the new arrangements before the end of 2016 .

The central supply chain for devices is scheduled to operate until September 2018 when it is expected that the new transformed arrangements for NHS-wide procurement will be in place.

The devices that this agreement will cover are:

  • 3 dimensional mapping and linear ablation catheters (complex cardiac ablation)
  • Aneurysm coils and flow diverters for intracranial aneurysms
  • Bespoke orthopaedic prostheses
  • Circular external fixator frames
  • Bone anchored hearing aids
  • Carotid, iliac and renal stents
  • Deep brain, vagal, sacral, spinal cord and occipital nerve stimulators
  • Endovascular stent graft
  • ICD (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator)
  • ICD with CRT (Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapy) capability
  • Intracranial stents
  • Intrathecal drug delivery pumps
  • Maxillofacial bespoke prostheses
  • Occluder, vascular, appendage and septal devices
  • Percutaneous valve repair and replacement devices (mitral/pulmonary valve)
  • Peripheral vascular stents
  • Radiofrequency, cryotherapy and microwave ablation probes and catheters


  1. Kerren McKinney says:

    Do NHSCC intend on using Supplier’s list prices or continue with existing discount structures currently in place at each Trust providing a service linked to an excluded device which is varied?

  2. barbara smith says:

    About time!!

  3. How do members of the public, Device Service Users and/or Charities assess the information, Prices or Tariffs?

  4. Karen Homan says:

    Hi Do these negotiated prices apply to medical devices when the CCG is the responsible commissioner?

    • NHS England says:

      Hi Karen,

      No – these are NHS England-commissioned services

      Kind Regards
      NHS England

  5. Ross Berrigan says:


    Is there a less vague list that has all of the prices and correct descriptions so I can check against my medical device list as the items above are too generic


    • NHS England says:

      Hi Ross,

      Thank you for your comment.

      All Trusts currently purchasing these high-cost devices will be receiving more information on the specific devices involved and how the scheme will work from NHS England and NHS Supply Chain. NHS Supply Chain will also provide a full programme of support to each Trust to ensure a smooth migration over to the new arrangements before the end of 2016

      Kind Regards
      NHS England

  6. John Davies says:

    The problem with whistleblowing as was discovered by the brave consultant who ignored this weird idea of a gagging clause is the management does not forgive; you have broken the taboo of the tribe. At employment tribunals complainants are upset to find that the substantive issues raised by them are not addressed only the character of the complainant is at issue and character assassination is pursued to destry the individual by undermining their honesty. It is like a court attacking the intergrity of the witness.
    It is also the case the very rarely,if ever, is the whistleblower offered reemployment of on conditions designed to be impossible.

    A good example of this is the BBC presenter Miriam O’Reilly who successfully brought a case against the BBC. When George Entwistle -just before he went – was asked about her he said in the imperious management tone- if Miriam comes with an idea of a programme we will consider it. So Ms O’Reilly rather then just getting her job back would have to actually propose a programme idea.
    Various other methods are used for example, according to Private Eye the whistleblowing unit in one hospital is situated in full view of the management suite not conducive to confidentiality. Then there is the weird response of professional bodies. Margaret Heywood is now a legend for her bravery and one of the first to be supported by the new social media. Believe or not folks she was removed of her licence because she broached the privacy of the patients. Was this the decision of a rampant, market forces, Thatcherite, privatization zealot ?

    No it was the Nursing and Midwifery Council ! And I don’t think Margie got her job back.
    The privatization of the NHS will leads to even less transperancy sighting commercial confidentiality [ David Bennett ] as the excuse and this with public monies .
    One lawyer who looks at these things gave the advice about blowing the whistle – don’t.

  7. Professor Martin Elliott says:

    This has to be a good thing, and is long overdue. Please make sure that the costs are visible to the end user. They may help you make rational choices.

    Innovators and researchers will need clarity of how to get new and potentially good stuff onto the list, and we must make that part of the process as transparent and straightforward as possible. You will face difficulties as many of the devices listed above are ripe for ‘personalisation’ in due course.