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Carter Review Says Hospitals Must Standardise Procedures

Implementing the recommendations will help end variations in quality of care and finances that cost the NHS billions, Lord Carter has advised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in his final report. The executive summary is available and the full report will be published shortly. His review found unwarranted variation in running costs, sickness absence, infection rates and prices paid for supplies and services.

As part of the review, a ‘model hospital’ has been developed which will advise NHS trusts on the most efficient allocation of resources and allows hospitals to measure performance against other trusts.

Following the model hospital examples could save hospitals £5 billion a year by 2020 to 2021 and put an end to the variations the review uncovered across the NHS, including:

  • average running costs for a hospital (£ per square metre) vary from £105 at one trust to as high as £970 for another
  • infection rates for hip and knee replacements vary from 0.5 to 4%
  • prices paid by different hospitals for hip replacements range from £788 to £1,590
  • the use of floor space - one trust uses 12% for non-clinical purposes and another uses as much as 69%
  • sickness absence rates differ from 3.1% to 5%

As well as reviewing hospitals across England, Lord Carter’s review looked at healthcare systems abroad, including in the US, Germany, Australia, Italy and France where hospitals have a greater focus on efficiency because they have established the clear link it has with patient care.

Lord Carter said, "My experience of the NHS and hospitals internationally is that high quality patient care and sound financial management go hand in hand. To improve the quality of care hospitals must grasp resources more effectively, especially staff, which account for more than 60 pence of every pound hospitals spend. Giving hospitals the tools and support to better manage resources will make it easier for boards to follow the example of the best trusts and mean every patient can receive the same world class care and taxpayers will also receive a fairer return on their significant investment in the NHS."

Acute NHS trusts spend £55.6 billion every year, £33.9 billion of which goes on staffing. Lord Carter estimates a 1% improvement in staff productivity will save the NHS £280 million a year, which equates to hospitals using new working methods that would save every member of staff 5 minutes on an 8 hour shift.

Other areas covered by the report include:

  • staffing: the review calls for an improvement in the way the NHS deploys its staff, ending the use of outdated and inefficient paper rosters
  • procurement: as part of the review, from April 2016, trusts will publish their receipts on a monthly basis for the top 100 items bought by the NHS such as bandages, needles and rubber gloves
  • use of floor space: trusts’ unused floor space should not exceed 2.5%, and floor space used for non-clinical purposes should not exceed 35%
  • administration costs: these should not exceed 7% by 2018 and 6% by 2020
  • delayed transfers of care: Lord Carter has called for action to be taken on the ‘major problem’ of delayed transfers of care, which affects hospitals and trusts’ earning and spending capacity
  • working with neighbouring hospitals: Lord Carter advises trusts to work closely with their neighbouring hospitals, sharing services and resources to improve efficiency and reduce costs

Lord Carter was asked to carry out the review by Jeremy Hunt as part of his aim to make the NHS the safest and most efficient healthcare system in the world. The efficiency expert has spent the last 18 months visiting hospitals across the country and reviewing productivity to ensure the NHS gets the best value from its £102 billion annual budget and help the NHS to implement a 7-day service.

Jeremy Hunt said, "I want to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world, capable of providing the same world class care every day of the week, powered by a culture of transparency and learning. This groundbreaking review will help hospitals care for patients, making sure every penny possible is spent on frontline patient care and bureaucracy is slashed so doctors and nurses can concentrate on caring. I’m grateful to Lord Carter, his team and those trusts involved in identifying the recommendations and urge all trusts to implement them immediately."

Lord Carter will continue to engage with and support trusts to achieve the efficiency improvements they can make over the coming months. NHS Improvement (NHSI) will lead the implementation of the recommendations and Lord Carter will become a non-executive director of the regulator in April. Lord Carter has also called for trusts to have closer support and management from NHSI, both locally and nationally, to ensure the review is fully implemented across all trusts.

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Is Affordable Private Health Insurance the Answer to NHS Failings?

In light of recent news headlines regarding the poor state of some NHS hospitals, Over 50s personal finance comparison site Over50choices announces alternative healthcare solutions with the launch of their new affordable Private Health Insurance comparison tool. As a nation, over the years the majority of people in the UK have been proud of the NHS, a service that has been the envy of other countries. Now as a result of relentless bad press, regarding poor healthcare, hospital super drugs and increased death rates, the quality of service provided really has come into question. Little wonder then that people are looking for alternative solutions.

Over50choices, a personal finance comparison website designed specifically for the Over50s, has a dedicated section on affordable Private Health Insurance, an option for those looking for an alternative to the NHS. It explains all about the different types of cover, how to reduce monthly premiums for people on a budget and provides a comparison service so visitors to the site can compare healthcare plans and be sure to choose the right level of cover for their needs.

Private Health Insurance can be of benefit for those looking to have more control over the treatment they receive. It provides speedy access to specialists and consultants avoiding lengthy NHS queues; more accommodating appointment times arranged to suit the individual; the use of private hospitals which usually includes en-suite rooms with good quality food, TVs and private phones; unrestricted visiting times and access to new drugs and treatment that may not be available on the NHS.

Over50choices Managing Director Ashley Shepherd speaks from personal experience when talking about the benefits of Health Insurance. “Having been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer 3 years ago, I found the support and protection my health insurance gave me invaluable. I was able to explore all the options available to me and had access to one of the countries’ leading urologists, a point I whole heartedly believe was life changing."

Of course Private Healthcare does not negate the need or use of the NHS which still provides emergency support and care for long term illness but it can help people stay in control of their healthcare. We all lead busy lives these days so if we have an illness, the last thing we need is the additional strain and pressure brought on by waiting for appointments, test results and treatments. By speeding up the process with health insurance, life doesn’t necessarily have to come to a standstill.”

The website explains the differences between the main types and different levels of health insurance and how to reduce costs by increasing the excess which is the amount the insured person is prepared to pay towards each claim, agreeing to be treated by the NHS if treatment takes place within certain time frames or by paying a certain percentage of costs. In addition to affordable Private Health Insurance, the website also helps visitors review, compare and buy Over 50s life insurance, car insurance, travel, pet and home insurance, energy suppliers and funeral plans.

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