Let’s hear it for the NHS bureaucrats
The Audit Commission report that NHS hospitals in England could save around £500m a year if they improve the way they buy everyday supplies. Apparently one trust bought 13 types of glove while another purchased 177.
While I suspect things are never quite as simple as these headline figures suggest, there is no doubt a real issue here.
Yet it takes good managers sitting in back offices to run good effective procurement programmes – and for all Andrew Lansley’s rush to endorse the report’s findings – it is precisely such NHS staff who are regularly attacked by those who want to suggest public services are wasteful.
I don’t want doctors, nurses and physiotherapists to be glove ordering. They have better things to do with their time.
Let’s hear it for the bureaucrats – and all the other support staff – who make sure the health professionals get their job done.
And of course the localism agenda means that government is gradually losing powers to insist on tight procurement policies – these not only make sense for efficiency reaons, but can also play a part in industrial strategy.