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Partnership helps improve patient outcomes while lowering costs at Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS FT

Partnership helps improve patient outcomes while lowering costs at Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS FT

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Achieving reduced lengths of stay, re-admissions and mortality is a key part of the quality strategy at Wirral University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Quality outcomes at a lower cost

Identifying standardisation in wound care was a key area to support this strategy, which led to the procurement team forming a partnership with Tissue Viability Nurse, Bernadette Harwood and David Wynne, Specialist IV Access Nurse.

They quickly established that clinical practice on dressing catheter sites should be aligned to UK evidence based guidelines and that there were opportunities to reduce costs by standardising to a lower cost IV dressing that was clinically acceptable.


Supported by Karen Hudson, a Clinical Nurse Advisor from NHS Supply Chain, the team agreed to focus on IV dressings along with a number of other high spend wound care product areas.

Having shared analysis with David and Bernadette to enable the decision to be made, Karen handled the process of obtaining samples from the shortlisted suppliers, prior to the evaluation process.

“We identified a number of options, knowing we had to do the best by the patient but at a cost that was affordable. However, once we settled on the option everyone liked, it actually helped us on other areas, as nurses already had the confidence in this brand of product”

David Wynne
Specialist IV Access Nurse
Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS FT


The first six months of the project focused mainly on set up, to ensure savings and efficiencies were recurrent over for the long term.

"This project only works because of the cross functional working between clinical and procurement. It’s a partnership with common goal. >

Herlin Joseph
Divisional Procurement Manager
Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS FT

Main learnings

  • Take time to establish strong foundations for efficiency over the long term i.e. manage expectations, area by area, recurrent process
  • Accelerate adoption using catalogue tools like product masking as formulary changes can be slow to implement and inhibit progress
  • Consider the whole care pathway, even if the initial focus is in the acute setting
  • Ensure there is ownership for communication of the change and ordering of the new products to avoid product availability issues.

"NHS Supply Chain has the information about what we are using and the price of all the alternatives. They do the hard work for us and obtain the samples which stop individual companies knocking on our door, taking up our time. We have found it to be a really positive experience.”

Bernadette Harwood
Tissue Viability Nurse, Infection Prevention and Control
Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS FT

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