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Asset Management in the NHS

Wednesday 19 February 2014

“Asset management is not just about buying equipment – it is about using it to meet the needs to of the NHS to improve patient care”, Andy Brown, Managing Director (Business Solutions), NHS Supply Chain.

The special report, published 31 January 2014 in HSJ, addresses the issue of ageing capital medical equipment and the challenge of balancing increased demand for resource with the financial difficulty of funding the replacement.

Nick Rose, head of the independent trust financing facility at the Department of Health feels that much of the issue is trusts are not aware of the funding and support available, “Quite a lot of what is wrong in the system is wrong at the trust end, rather than around the availability of capital”.

The report discusses the lack of an effective asset management/equipment replacement strategy in the NHS and the resultant use of equipment beyond its recommended life. Longer term the impact is an inability to replace the equipment: in a report by AXrEM, rates of replacement of MRI between were reduced by 33% when compared to 2010 and CT scanners purchased dropped by 40%. A 2011 National Audit Office report estimated that an investment of £450m was needed to replace just MRI, CT scanners and linear accelerators, over a three year period.

The Woodhouse Partnership advocate an lifecycle management approach, which they claim could save up to 40% in operating costs. However, the cultural challenge they claim, is to think beyond the 12 month plan and approach equipment replacement as multi-year or multi-decade planning, “ We keep on limping on with a sticking plaster approach. Putting a price on what the current system is costing in terms of lost opportunities and reputational risk”.


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