HDA UK Welcomes Lord Carter’s Report into NHS Efficiency

8th February 2016 London: The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) welcomes the final report of Lord Carter’s review into NHS efficiency as it recognises the important role that the supply chain must play in helping secondary care save £5billion a year by 2020.

If the NHS is to make such levels of savings by 2020 it is imperative that it makes the most of the existing robust healthcare distribution sector that stands ready to translate the efficiencies seen in the primary care pharmacy sector.

The HDA has been discussing with the NHS and secondary care representatives the benefits of consolidating orders and deliveries to hospitals. This work has provided input to the Hospital Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation project that is being administered by the Department’s Commercial Medicines Unit (CMU), and HDA will continue to work with the CMU to prioritise Lord Carter’s recommendations.

As Martin Sawer, Executive Director of the HDA noted:

We are working closely with the Department of Health to utilise the expertise of our members for the benefit of NHS secondary care. More efficient procurement through increased collaboration with healthcare distributors can unlock significant savings that can be transferred to the front line of care – ultimately benefiting patients.

The report highlights a number of areas where HDA members could help hospitals find savings:



On average hospital-based pharmacists spend 55% of their time (and 45% of costs) on infrastructure services, of which supply chain activities form the largest element (45% of staff time).

By making full use of the e-ordering and invoicing technology provided by HDA members, substantial amounts of hospital pharmacists’ time could be freed up for more important, patient-facing activity.

NHS hospitals often have significant supplies of medicines in stock (20 days on average), equating to up to £200m of drugs at any one time.

Healthcare distributors can act as the stockroom for secondary care, storing supplies and delivering them to the right place at the right time, often with only 30 minutes notice. Lord Carter estimates that this would generate a £50million one-off saving to the NHS if stock holding times were reduced to 15 from 20 days.

A typical acute trust can receive up to 30 deliveries a day of medicines and medical devices, taking up considerable amounts of the pharmacist’s precious time.

Rationalising supplies from hundreds of manufacturers, wholesalers utilise cutting-edge stock control technology to dramatically reduce the number of deliveries hospitals receive, freeing up pharmacists to concentrate on patient care.