Kieran Walshe, professor of health policy and management at Manchester Business School joined presenters Charlie State and Naga Munchetty on the BBC Breakfast sofa recently to discuss the release of Lord Carter’s report into NHS waste and inefficiency.
The report, which was released later the same day, was expected to say that improvements in managing staff rotas and shift patterns and a new approach to purchasing everyday items could add up to large savings of up to £5bn for the NHS.
Professor Walshe said there are great variations in terms of what NHS trusts are spending across the country for certain items, however, when you drill down into the detail, there are variations in the quality of the items being bought. He said we need be cautious about just looking at the numbers, as the differences might be legitimate.
NHS trusts can purchase through the NHS Supply Chain, which negotiates nationwide deals, or they can choose to procure by themselves. Professor Walshe stressed that in an organisation the size of the NHS, it’s expected that variations will occur.
Professor Walshe said he expected that Lord Carter may look at staff productivity in his report – such as the number of staff required to serve a number of patients on a ward, in a clinic, in a theatre. NICE had been looking at better ways to identify staffing levels and measuring workload, but this was recently stopped.
Ultimately, Professor Walshe said that those working in the NHS will read the report with interest, but he expects that they will certainly ask themselves the question ‘is it anything that we haven’t already been trying to do’?