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Small Changes, Big Differences

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Clinical supplies – quality, safety and value at the frontline

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), NHS Supply Chain and the Clinical Procurement Specialist Network (CPSN), have joined forces to help nursing staff to use their unparalleled knowledge and experience to have a say in how their trust purchases and utilises key clinical supplies.

The small changes, big differences campaign has been developed to help drive savings and promote patient safety with product quality and patient care being key factors. The aim is to harness the knowledge and expertise that exists in the NHS and to provide simple, interactive tools that can help to drive long lasting change and share best practice.

What do nurses think? In December 2014 through Nursing Times we conducted a survey to hear from all areas of the nursing community on their current purchasing practices. The results were conclusive and the volume of responses to the survey cemented the need for nurses to work more closely with their trust procurement teams.

What the nursing community said:

  • Improving patient safety
    87% of nurses said patient safety could be improved if nurses had greater involvement in the purchasing process and worked more closely with clinical supplies teams
  • Reducing waste
    91% of nurses said if they had greater involvement in the purchasing process and worked more closely with clinical supplies teams they could help save money
  • Getting involved
    79% of nurses said the biggest barrier to getting involved in the purchase of clinical supplies was due to lack of time, knowledge, support or that they are not allowed to and over 80% of nursing staff think there is scope to save money in their organisation.

From gloves to dressings, there are thousands of products in today’s healthcare market all of which vary in cost but could also vary in performance. It’s the nursing staff who use their incomparable product knowledge to select which product will provide the best level of care for each patient. By empowering nurses to get involved with purchasing decisions it will mean that the most suitable products will be bought at the best price.

“There has never been a better time to look at what nurses are buying and find those opportunities to save money, which will at the same time help protect patient safety and reduce the amount of waste in medical products. As the individuals at the heart of this process, we as nurses are in the best possible position to influence it” says Mandie Sunderland, Chief Nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

I am delighted to be heading up a campaign with the Royal College of Nursing, NHS Supply Chain and the Clinical Procurement Specialists Network to help empower nurses to promote safety, quality and efficiency. This is not about adding to our workload, it is about making the best use of what we already do every day” concludes Mandie.

The small changes, big differences campaign is made up of a range of informative and interactive tools that have been developed to showcase the impact of purchasing more efficiently. The toolkit consists of:

  • Simple steps for how nurses and healthcare assistants can add value to the procurement process
  • Best practice guidelines that provide useful information about how to get the most out of working with procurement teams and suggestions on how to take action. There are also tips to help nurses implement the campaign in their trust.
  • Case Studies; hear from trusts who have successfully; reduced spend through collaborative purchasing and working together with neighbouring trusts; preventing waste and saving money by swapping in date clinical supplies with other departments and; standardising product ranges to reduce waste and cost whilst promoting patient safety.
  • Traffic Light Support System which helps nurses to label products in their stock rooms to raise awareness of their cost before selection, driving efficiencies without creating any extra work.

All of the tools, along with the other useful information can be found at: www.rcn.org.uk/smallchanges or www.supplychain.nhs.uk/smallchanges  

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