Cormac’s thoughts on the Lord Carter review


The need to make £22bn savings across NHS England over the next five years certainly focuses the mind and with news last week that hospitals in England have run up a record deficit, the financial challenges within NHS trusts continue to make the headlines.

The review of operational productivity and performance in English NHS acute hospitals by Lord Carter suggested that the solution to getting the best value out of the NHS budget lies in operational change.

The Labour life peer and efficiency expert uncovered stark variations of care and finance in hospitals and presented recommendations that include standardising procedures, increasing transparency and working more closely with neighbouring NHS trusts.

Integrated working is a familiar theme to us; Celesio UK has always looked for ways to innovate and revolutionise healthcare to maximise patient benefit. As a business we are a long term partner of the health service and we have evolved to meet the changing needs of a 7-day NHS.

Lord Carter’s recommendations say that in order to maximise efficiencies, infrastructure services should be delivered through collaborative or shared service type-models, suggesting that such services do not always need to be delivered by NHS employed staff.  As experts in dispensing and medicines optimisation, we have demonstrated how such collaborative working can help improve efficiencies in hospitals’ outpatient dispensing services (OPD).  We now provide OPD for 40 hospitals and have helped them to reduce waiting times and contribute to cash savings as well as—crucially—releasing their pharmacy experts to focus on medicines optimisation.

The report also highlights the potential of centralised dispensing for increasing efficiencies in the supply of medicines to patients when they are discharged from hospital.  Dispensing onsite at a LloydsPharmacy gives the hospital greater control, then our logistics network can deliver the patient’s medication to their local LloydsPharmacy allowing the patient to either collect from the pharmacy or have it delivered to their own home.

But these examples only scratch the surface of what is possible.  The LloydsPharmacy First Care Clinic pilot at the North Manchester General Hospital is a prime example of what pharmacy and the NHS can deliver when working together and adapting to change. The Clinic provided patients with greater choice, giving those deemed appropriate by a triage nurse the chance to receive treatment from a clinically trained pharmacist within the A&E department, whilst alleviating teams in A&E to treat those patients with more complex trauma cases.

We want to support hospitals in delivering optimum and efficient healthcare in line with government recommendations.  Yes, we can provide off-the-shelf solutions but we can also work with our co-innovators in the NHS to design new responses to the challenges and pressures they face. Our integrated model has a major benefit – a single point of contact for a hospital’s entire pharmacy supply chain.