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.