NHS saves £288 million on everyday essentials

Trusts across England saved £288 million in the last financial year by securing the best deals for commonly bought items, such as syringes, disposable gloves, loo roll and shoe covers. The money freed up can be reinvested into other services and equipment.

Savings so far

Trusts are able to compare how much their neighbours have paid for commonly purchased items and negotiate the best deals with suppliers, and some trusts club together on some orders and buy in bulk.

Savings include:

  • £824,000 on couch rolls after 227 trusts joined together to buy them from one supplier
  • £106,000 on loo rolls after 184 trusts joined together to buy them from one supplier
  • £164,000 on temporary shoes after 141 trusts joined together to buy them from one supplier

A price comparison tool allows trusts to view the most expensive and cheapest options for over one million products and it sets a benchmark for each product to help trusts avoid paying more than they need to.

Trusts have been using the tool to make significant savings, including:

  • One trust has saved £150,000 in the first month alone of using the tool. The trust was able to see that other trusts were paying less for exactly the same product – implanted cardiac defibrillators. The tool gave them the evidence they needed to renegotiate their price with their supplier.
  • The tool showed one trust what they could be paying for a number of different medical devices if they bought them in bulk. This helped them save £40,000 when renegotiating their new contract with their suppliers
  • One hospital trust saved £150,000 in the first month of using the price comparison tool after re-negotiating a deal on prosthesis (prosthetic body parts such as limbs)
We are running training sessions (until December) to help trusts learn to use the price comparison tool. Please email to sign up.

‘As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, we are driving efficiency across the sector to make sure that every penny of the additional investment does not go to waste.

It is great that trusts are increasingly securing the best prices for their everyday essentials, like disposable gloves and syringes. This is good for patients as the money freed up can be reinvested elsewhere and it is what taxpayers deserve.’

Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement

There’s still scope for more

While trusts have made excellent progress, there are further improvements to how NHS trusts purchase their most commonly used items, so scope for more savings.

For example, trusts could free up:

  • £5.6 million a year if they paid minimum price for one box of examination gloves. Prices charged for a pack of 100 examination gloves can vary from £0.65 to £1.84 currently. It is estimated that hospitals use nearly 7 million examination gloves a year. The money freed up could pay for 896 knee replacements or 790 hip replacements.
  • £3.7 million nationally if they paid the minimum price for radiology syringes. Prices charged for a pack of 50 radiology syringes can vary from £324 to £553 currently. The money freed up could pay for 28 ambulances or 74 rapid response vehicles.

NHS system leaders are coming together to draw up a long-term plan for the NHS, which will build on achievements such as the price comparison tool, to help ensure efficiencies are fully utilised across the country.

‘As part of putting an extra £20 billion a year into the NHS, it’s more important than ever that we ensure money is effectively spent and harness new technology to identify where high prices are being paid and challenge this.

Just as retail customers often use price comparison sites, we are using similar principles within the NHS to identify where trusts are paying more than others and using comparative data to drive down procurement costs.’

Steve Barclay MP, Health Minister for Department of Health and Social Care

To find out more about the tool and how to start using it in your trust, please email

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