Britain’s National Health Service – lauded by the political left as the “envy of the world” – is paying up to 75x the price for medicines, and double the price for goods such as toilet paper and syringes, according to a new, government-commissioned review.
Lord Carter’s review, which looked at 22 hospitals across Britain, revealed that liver tablets that cost 2p each in some hospitals, were costing others up to £1.50. The same level of wasteful overspending was identified in items like syringes, aprons, and toilet paper, the latter of which cost some hospitals £66 for a box, whereas some hospitals paid just £30.
The BBC reports:
He also identified huge inefficiencies in the way staff were managed, with one hospital losing £10,000 a month through workers claiming too much leave.
The report, which will be published in full later, will also say hospitals need to make better use of staff through flexible working and better rostering.
Meanwhile, better use of medicines could also have a substantial impact, the efficiency review said.
And states that the savings identified by Lord Carter include:
- By 2019-20, the review believes £5bn a year could be saved across staffing, medicines, everyday items and estates.
- Some £2bn of that could come from changes to improving the way rosters are run and making sure non-productive time such as training and annual leave is better managed.
- Meanwhile £1bn each could be saved from the bills of medicines, estates and procurement of everyday goods.
- The NHS uses 500,000 different lines of everyday items with the price between similar goods varying by over 35% compared to 1% to 2% in other health systems.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation responded to the findings by saying, “The potential savings need to be tested and developed with the wider NHS, so that final savings targets due to be handed to the NHS from September are owned by the whole service.”
The news follows a general election campaign in which parties clashed over the state of the National Health Service. While no other party leader dared to point out the flaws, UKIP leader Nigel Farage took the debate head on, writing in a book launched during the campaign:
“I know how sacred the NHS is to the people of Britain; everyone is frightened that it will be taken away. But the cost of that fear is that the political classes are terrified of even criticising it. The standard of debate about the NHS on programmes such as Question Time is risible.
“No one — whether Tory, Labour or Liberal Democrat — will have anything but praise for the doctors and nurses of the NHS. Then they get a round of applause and that is it. It is as if you cannot support something and criticise it at the same time.
“I have now had three near-death experiences — cancer, an accident and a plane crash — and I’ve seen the best and worst of the NHS. I am better qualified to criticise and defend our health care system than most politicians.”