Lord Carter’s model hospitals aim to save the NHS £5 billion a year

A lack of standardised procedures in the use of resources across acute hospitals is costing the NHS billions, according to Labour peer Lord Carter of Coles.

The report on his 18-month investigation into the efficiency of NHS providers says that if acute trusts reduced ‘unwarranted variation’ and standardised their procedures in six core areas including procurement, staffing and hospital pharmacy, they could save £5 billion of the £55.6 billion they spend annually.

This would add up to a cumulative saving of £20 billion by 2020.

Picture credit: Pete Ellis

He cited huge variations in trusts’ performance in areas such as discharge processes, sickness absence and staffing levels.

The review found that the average sickness absence rate calculated over 365 days was 4% but there was a variation of 2.7% to 5.8% at different trusts. The report states that a 1% improvement in sickness absence would equate to £280 million in staff costs and suggests that an improvement in staff motivation and wellbeing would be required to achieve this.