What would you buy the NHS for Christmas?

By Chris Tossell 

As the festive season is in full swing, my own Christmas shopping tactics got me thinking, what should the NHS be given for Christmas?

If this was a survey for the Family Fortunes Christmas Special the answers would surely include more funding, more nurses, and more bed space. The difficulty here is that the NHS staggers on some engrained process that mean each of those gifts would only be temporary; the equivalent of the body wash your aunt is wrapping for you, eventually you’ll need more body wash.

With the industry lagging so far behind on technology, and hospitals already full to the brim of paper, the gift must be technology based.  The gift needs to tackle a number of challenges the NHS faces including inefficient cost processes, and lack of management information to wastage of consumables lack of product traceability.

The NHS provides healthcare that directly relies on having the right product or consumable to hand to treat the patient yet it has very little clue how much is spent on inventory. Finance directors in the NHS often say that they guess or estimate the amount a procedure costs because they don’t know how much inventory is used. It’s this thinking that pushed Lord Carter to do his work and come to the conclusion that the NHS could save £1bn from optimisation in this area.

The current predicament for those who run our health service gets more serious year on year, to deliver more services to a growing population on a smaller budget, and without compromise to quality.

And that’s why the 2017 gift to the NHS has to be an inventory management system. It’s the enabler that can facilitate significant change. A tool that tracks the journey of every item the NHS buys from the moment it is ordered until the moment it is used, and also a tool to automate the reordering to enable front line staff to spend more time with patients and less time in stock cupboards. The benefits from track and trace of NHS consumables are clear for patient safety, management visibility and cost savings. I’m not just talking about medical supplies here with RFID and braced scanning inventory systems, the technology is there to track just about anything that moves, we just need to utilise it.

Ingenica has already achieved exceptional results for its clients, and has helped a number of trusts crack the challenge and secure significant savings.  Having recently joined the Ingenica team, this is an achievement that I would like to see extend to the trusts that I know.

It’s not just the financial savings; rooms have been repurposed from holding stock to holding patients and staff have been released from chasing stock to treating patients.

So when you’re sipping an eggnog latte or taking advantage of the last minute Christmas shopping deals, think about what inventory management could do for your trust.

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