PCTs move to control spend on clinical consumables

PCTs have introduced a range of innovative measures to control spending on clinical consumables such as glucose test strips and wound dressings, GPonline.com has found.

To control costs, one PCT has introduced formularies for blood glucose strip to limit the range of strips prescribed on the NHS (Photograph: SPL)
To control costs, one PCT has introduced formularies for blood glucose strip to limit the range of strips prescribed on the NHS (Photograph: SPL)

In February, a National Audit Office report showed that hospital trusts were wasting £500m a year through inefficient purchasing of basic clinical consumables.

PCTs have already made efforts to bring costs of non-pharmaceutical consumables under control, an investigation using Freedom of Information Act requests has found. GPonline.com revealed on Monday that 35% of PCTs have introduced new measures in 2011/12 to restrict spend on interventions they deem to be non-urgent or of low clinical value.

Trusts are also targeting spending on blood-glucose testing strips and wound dressings as areas where efficiencies can be achieved. The NHS in England spent £296m on blood-glucose testing strips in 2010, NHS Information Centre data show.

In an attempt to control such costs, NHS Tameside and Glossop and NHS Nottinghamshire County have introduced formularies for blood glucose strip to limit the range of strips prescribed on the NHS.

A spokesman for NHS Tameside and Glossop said the PCT asked all glucose test strip manufacturers to put forward one or more of their products for inclusion in the formulary.

‘The formulary is not mandatory,’ he said. ‘Any patients who do not wish to follow a formulary choice can remain on their current strip.’

Other PCTs have set up audits and introduced peer-review of blood-glucose strip prescribing to ensure NICE guidelines on self-testing are being followed and included blood-glucose strips in prescribing incentive schemes.

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly produced an audit tool for practices to use to assess their prescribing. NHS Waltham Forest has developed health economic guidance recommending quantities of strips and preferred meters.

PCTs have also sought to control spending on wound dressings. For instance, NHS North Yorkshire and York PCT now recommend that retrospective orders for non-pharmaceutical consumables from manufacturers or wholesalers are not routinely accepted.

In addition, NHS Tower Hamlets is piloting a centralised procurement of wound care and NHS Bristol is now encouraging practices to order dressing directly through a web interface with a restricted formulary.

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