Pioneering price match scheme frees up millions for frontline care

Doctors have freed up millions of pounds to fund frontline care by banding together to create a pioneering ‘price match’ scheme that drives down the cost of simple items such as anti-embolism stockings and surgical gloves.

The clinician-led scheme in Sheffield saw staff and patients work closely across seven hospitals to agree on the best product and commit to bulk buy jointly to save money.

The hospitals had been using a variety of brands and paying different prices for the same products which all did the same job.

Evaluation of the products takes place to ensure there is no difference in the standard of care for patients as a result of a switch to the most cost effective product and robust opportunities for staff to make any concerns heard are in place.

By committing to buy a larger quantity of product thanks to the collaboration, 11 products were changed leading to savings of £2 million, including a saving of £400 thousand alone by switching to one type of examination glove.

Professor Des Breen, clinical lead for the South Yorkshire Integrated Care System, said: “It was just a no-brainer to keep using products we knew were the same quality as others we could buy for less purely because each department procures them individually.

“We knew we had to take advantage of buying for all the hospitals at the same time; it was a lot of work but well worth it when we think of all the extra services we can use that money to provide for patients.”

A scoring system was used on all of the products to make sure that they met the high standard needed for use by the NHS and the product which met all of these and was deemed the best value for money was chosen.

Further opportunities to use the process to make savings on other products are being scoped out and other areas across the country are considering using South Yorkshire’s approach.

Michael Macdonnell, director of system transformation at NHS England, said: “The South Yorkshire programme demonstrates how neighbouring hospitals can team up to improve clinical quality and reduce waste, working together as integrated systems. It also shows what can be achieved when clinicians take charge.

“But perhaps most impressive is that the team has already saved £2m which can now be reinvested into better patient care.”