Labour peer Lord Carter is currently advising the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on how the efficiency of NHS hospitals can be improved following a national review of NHS efficiency. In his June 2015 report, Lord Carter identified a series of costs-saving measures which could result in NHS hospital trusts in England saving £5 billion each year by 2019-2020.  

Lord Carter’s review looked at 22 hospitals, finding wide variations in how money was spent in areas such as basic equipment, including syringes and dressings; pharmaceutical supplies; the cost of routine operations such as hip replacements; and heating costs. He also advised that hospitals could make major costs savings by improving the way that annual leave, training and staff rotas were managed.  

The BBC reports that, since then, Lord Carter has been working on how to break down the savings he has identified into individual specialities. The largest savings are in general medicine (£381 million) and obstetrics and gynaecology (£362 million). 

He is writing today, 21 October 2015, to every NHS hospital trust in England to provide them with an individual review of how the hospitals they administer spend resources compared with similar organisations. He will also ask each NHS hospital trust to provide plans on how to improve their use of resources.

Lord Carter’s initiative is being made at a time when NHS finances are very much on the agenda with a deficit of nearly £1bn being recorded in the first three months of the current financial year.  

He said: "Our best hospitals offer patients an excellent service and they are up there with the very best in the world and we want to make sure all NHS hospitals meet these high standards of care." 

Camilla Wonnacott, associate in the clinical negligence department, said: "Our hospitals must be run efficiently and effectively and Lord Carter’s recommendations can only lead to an improved quality of patient care which is of paramount importance to those we represent."