An 18-month review looking at ways to cut waste and enhance efficiency in the NHS, has found improving staff productivity by five minutes every shift could save £280 million a year.
The results will be particularly damaging for the health service, considering that the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has already commanded the NHS to achieve efficiency savings worth £20 billion by 2020.
Indeed, defenders of the government, and no doubt the government itself, will be inclined to be more bullish about its plans after the culture of waste that emerged from the report.
The review, by efficiency expert Lord Carter, also found that with better procurement, the NHS could save £700 million every year; amounting to approximately 20% of the overall efficiency savings targeted by the government.
This is extremely critical information considering that the NHS is facing a £2 billion financial deficit by the end of this year alone.
The report commented that extensive investigation into the state of the NHS has revealed massive problems with procurement.
“A sample of 22 trusts use 30,000 suppliers, 20,000 different product brands, over 400,000 manufacturer products codes and more than 7,000 people are able to place orders.”
Analysts have indicated that high-quality patient care and sound financial management must both be present in order to deliver healthcare quality of international standard.
And this review would certainly suggest that the NHS has some distance to go in order to fit this description.
The report also made some tangible suggestions regarding the future direction of NHS procurement.
“To improve the quality of care, hospitals must grasp resources more effectively, especially staff, which account for more than 60p of every pound hospitals spend,” the review asserted.
The report comes as a separate study from the National Audit Office (NAO) found that in 2014 there was an overall staffing shortfall of around 5.9% in the NHS.
This would equate to a total gap in the region of 50,000 clinical staff.
There is no doubt that this sort of figure should be considered extremely significant, considering the financial travails that the NHS faces in the coming years.
Indeed, it has already been argued that staffing difficulties and recruitment issues will be a major concern for the NHS between now and the end of the decade.
With the government deadlocked in talks with junior doctors, and facing similar rebellion from nurses over bursaries, any news regarding possible ways of saving money will undoubtedly be received gratefully.