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NHS Procurement Atlas of Variation – Phase 2

Friday 7 November 2014

The Department of Health has today launched the second phase of the NHS Procurement Atlas of Variation. This second release shows the differences in the amount hospitals pay for the same range of everyday items as featured in the first release including catheters, gloves and needles, but will contain refreshed data (Q1 and Q2 FY14/15 data for products, and FY13/14 for Accounts data).This time, it also includes estates metrics covering the two areas below:

  • Annual running cost per m2
  • Potential annual savings

It has been developed by the Department of Health, to deliver greater transparency by comparing the prices paid by different trusts for the same types of products.

As before, pricing may vary for a number of reasons, which include:

  • Banded pricing according to volume
  • Different brands for products within the same category
  • Pricing based on commitment
  • Regional pricing
  • Price changes throughout the year
  • Pallet pricing.

The benchmark pricing is based on the average price paid during 2013/14 and excludes any commitment discounts and rebates – some of which play a significant role in driving savings. The data covers all products deemed as like for like – which may be over a large range of products from different suppliers. Better value alternative products may be available (via NHS Supply Chain’s Compare and Save Programme) where a trust sees a high average price; although clinical preference and specialism will play a role here (e.g. needles).

The Department of Health has advised NHS Supply Chain that the data featured in the Atlas has been normalised for multiple units of issue. So the prices in the Atlas are not necessarily the prices for the unit of issue, they are the prices for a certain number of units, all of which are explained in the Metadata document, available with the Atlas.

The Department of Health has issued a statement explaining the data analysis in further detail and provided contact details should trusts have questions about the analysis. You can find more information here: http://ccgtools.england.nhs.uk/procurement/ProcAtlasOctober2014/atlas.html.  

NHS Supply Chain supports the Government’s focus on transparency of information which is a priority element of the NHS procurement efficiency programme. The transparency initiative includes the requirement for NHS Providers to publish more procurement information, including prices paid. The NHS Atlas of Variation aims to allow trusts to identify savings opportunities and work with NHS Supply Chain to achieve better value.

We have been informed that on 31 January 2015 a third edition of the Atlas is planned for release which will contain refreshed data and is planned to include additional products.

Delivering value to the NHS