- A report says NHS trusts could collectively save £422million a year by 2020
- Some trusts spend far too much on legal teams, human resource departments
Hospitals have been told to stop wasting money on telephone systems and payslips to save £422million a year.
The NHS regulator has discovered that some trusts are spending six times as much as others on back office paperwork and legal costs.
A report by NHS Improvement reveals how there is also a four-fold variation on the bills for hospitals’ phone systems which include mobile phones, bleeps and running costs of switchboards.
Earlier this month around 250,000 people marched through London to demand more money for the NHS but the report by NHS Improvement claims money is being wasted
Some trusts were found to be spending three times more than others on their legal teams and human resource departments, described as back office corporate services.
The watchdog is today instructing hospitals to slash their back office costs as this is precious money which could be spent improving patient care.
The report calculates that trusts could collectively save £422million a year by 2020 if they ensured their cash was spent more wisely
The NHS is in the midst of its worst financial crisis in a generation and figures for 2015/16 show hospitals overspent their budget by a record £2.45 billion.
Only yesterday the Kings Fund think tank warned that this was taking its toll on patients particularly for end of life care and hip and knee operations.
But today’s report shows that hundreds of millions of pounds could be saved and ploughed back into care if hospitals became more efficient.
Jeremy Marlow, Executive Director for Operational Productivity at NHS Improvement, said: ‘The closer you look at the NHS the more you see variation in what things cost and the knock on effect this can have on hospitals and patients is huge.
‘We are working hard to support NHS providers (hospitals) to identify where they can improve so they can use their resources as effectively as possible, so that the service can continue to provide quality and sustainable care.
‘We want to support trusts to have high-quality, efficient corporate services they can rely on and we are asking them to work together to become more efficient, so that the NHS as a whole can benefit.’
Health Minister Philip Dunne said: ‘The NHS is one of the most efficient healthcare services in the world, but...there are still significant improvements that can be made to stop it needlessly wasting taxpayers’ money'
Health Minister Philip Dunne said: ‘The NHS is one of the most efficient healthcare services in the world, but as this work shows, there are still significant improvements that can be made to stop it needlessly wasting taxpayers’ money.
‘That’s why we are helping the NHS become even more efficient by ending unwarranted variation in how much hospitals pay for the same products and services, increasing transparency and reducing the use of expensive agency staff, so that every penny possible can be spent on frontline patient care.’
The report shows that some hospitals are spending £400,000 per £100 million of their turnover on telephone systems including mobile phones and bleeps.
This compares to others who were paying just £100,000 per £100 million
Others were spending £10 on payslips for employees, twice the cost of the average which was £4.28.
The most efficient hospitals spent just £2.80 for every £100 that went on patient care on corporate services, which includes human resources and legal costs.
At the other end of the scale however the worst were shelling out £7.50 per £100 that went on patient care on corporate services.
Some hospitals were paying £1 for processing an invoice whilst others paid £6.
A separate NHS report last month claimed hospitals were wasting up to £2 billion a year by paying over the odds for items including toilet roll, A4 paper and wet wipes.
Meanwhile another investigation revealed how one hospital – the Royal Berkshire in Reading - had almost paid £855 for a blackout blind that would have cost £22.95 in Homebase.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: ‘We hear all too often that there are no more savings to be made in the NHS but these figures show that taxpayers’ money is wasted through inefficiency.
‘The NHS can and must do a lot more to share good practice across trusts and ensure more money goes towards frontline services, instead of being squandered through dodgy IT systems and bad governance.
‘Simply throwing more money at trusts without correcting these institutionalised failings is simply throwing good money after bad.’
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