Buying Medical Equipment and Supplies

Posted by admin on June 15, 2013 at 8:42 am. Filed under: Medical Supplies

With shrinking NHS budgets, it can be difficult for hospitals and medical practices to decide where and when to spend their precious funds on medical equipment and supplies. Last year, Health Minister Simon Burns revealed that alternative ways of buying supplies and equipment could save the NHS £1.2 billion, which could then be reinvested in patient care.

It’s not just the expensive medical diagnostic equipment that will save the pounds either. Simple things such as changing their supplier for latex gloves and sutures can also make a real difference. As well as medical equipment, Mr Burns also wants the NHS to look at its suppliers for catering and energy.

A £300 million cash fund has been established by the Department of Health, together with the NHS Supply Chain, in order to enable the NHS to save money by bulk buying large equipment, including ultrasound machines, MRI scanners, CT scanners and technology relating to cancer treatment. This has allowed the NHS to save £11 million already.

The NHS has previously found it difficult to control its buying and spending power because there was a lack of knowledge between local hospitals about what equipment was needed.

Speaking about the issue, Mr Burns said: “Waste is unacceptable when we know there are simple solutions. That is why the NHS needs to buy smarter and get the best value for the taxpayer for every penny spent.

“We know that at least £1.2 billion could be saved over the next four years if the NHS innovatively changes the way it buys good and services. Already, over £11 million has been saved through bulk-buy discounts on the cash fund. This is the first step to better, smarter procurement in the NHS and we will be working closely with hospital trusts over the next six months to help them save even more money that can be reinvested in patient care.”

MRI and CT scanners only have a recommended life of about ten years, at which point they need updating or replacing. The NHS estimate that around 200 of these items will need replacing over the next couple of years and so significant discounts will be able to be made through bulk buying deals.

The Cash Fund investment allows the NHS Supply Chain to secure these bulk buying deals with suppliers. The Managing Director of Business Solutions for NHS Supply Chain, Andy Brown, said: “This important development will allow NHS Supply Chain to group together the purchasing power of the NHS for this vital equipment, make large commitments to suppliers and bring improved planning to the management and replacement of this equipment across the NHS and with suppliers.”

Of course, it is not just on the big ticket items where money can be saved. By working hard to save costs in every aspect of the NHS, from supplies of medical gloves through to large diagnostic equipment, the money saved can be reinvested in improving services and quality of care for patients, something which the NHS badly needs following recent devastating reports surrounding Stafford Hospital.


Preventing the Spread of Infection

Posted by admin on June 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm. Filed under: Medical Supplies

Every winter for the last few years, it seems that there has been ever more alarming numbers of cases of Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug. This is just one virus that can be quickly spread and can cause large outbreaks of infection, which can be life-threatening to the elderly and those who are already ill.

Infection control needs to be a priority for anyone providing healthcare services, including hospitals, care homes and medical practices. Catching an infection can cause patients to suffer additional pain and/or interventions or need to stay at the service for longer. It is estimated by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) that 4.1 million patients within the EU develop infections every year as a result of health care, with a result of 37,000 deaths. This has cost the health service in England approximately £1 billion a year in additional costs, largely due to patients staying longer.

In the UK, all health care organisations are required to comply with national statutory or regulatory standards relating to infection prevention and control.


As well as specific infection control products, diet also plays a big role in managing the spread of infections. Malnutrition and dehydration affect the body’s ability to fight infection, which can lead to a wound taking longer to heal, the increased risk of developing pressure sores, and the depletion of fat stores, which leads to muscle wastage and lethargy. These can all lead to the patient being higher at risk of developing a wound, skin or respiratory infection.

All patients need to be screened for malnutrition on admission to hospital. If they are found at risk, then they should be put on an individual nutrition plan.

Specimen Handling

Medical staff are required to regularly collect specimens, such as urine, blood, faeces, and sputum and wound swabs. It is vital that these are collected and handled in the correct way to stop infections from spreading. Incorrectly collected or handled specimens may mean that a patient is prescribed the wrong antibiotics, which then leaves them open to other infections, such as C. difficile.

Nursing staff should wear appropriate protective clothing when collecting specimens, such as surgical gloves and aprons. Specimens need to be labelled correctly with all the relevant patient and specimen information. They should be transported safely and sent off as soon as possible to be tested.

Clean Hands

Medical staff should demonstrate good hand hygiene to aid infection prevention and control. Hand hygiene includes using both soap and water and hand sanitizers, such as alcohol hand gels. Any health care establishment’s list of essential medical supplies should include the provision of a hand gel dispenser. This includes hospitals, GP surgeries, health clinics, walk-in centres and care homes.

Hand hygiene should be performed before and after contact with a patient, particularly when dealing with a patient wound or invasive device, before an aseptic task, after gloves have been removed, and after exposure to bodily fluids, as these are the situations where the greatest risk is exposed.


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