Portsmouth NHS Trust has identified more than £6.4m in savings through better stock control since implementing an inventory management system from Smart Use. 

Director of procurement and commercial services Alan Hoskins said his department’s saving target for last year was £3m.

However, it had ultimately delivered £6.4m through a combination stock savings, cash holidays and “doing things very much differently within inventory."

The new system tracks consumables such as syringes and gloves. It also has the functionality to track other products, which the trust is looking to implement in the future.

“At a touch of a button, we can see exactly what product was bought, who bought it, who used it and who consumed it,” Hoskins explained.

“What we have identified through this process is that about 13% of stock is waste,” he added. “We believe that with the current system that wastage will be brought down to 2-3%.”

He said the system had identified £1.78m in stock restatement – stock that was not previously recorded on the books.

Previously, no one knew what stock was being held in other wards/departments so if they needed something, they would buy more. Now, the trust can see what stock is available and where.

This has led to considerably less items being ordered and changes made to contracts, creating a “cash holiday”.

The trust is now working to reduce stock levels in certain areas – creating more space for clinical use.

“We found more than £2m of produce that’s either slow moving or may not be required and we’re now working to reduce those levels,” he added.

Hoskins said the trust had been looking for solutions to improve inventory management for a number of years.

“We were looking for something that particularly would work well in health, not just to track a product on a ward being consumed…but to understand who used it, why and when and track the benefits,” he explained.

“It’s very much about taking control, getting that visibility that some that organisations haven’t got.”

The trust started proof of concept work with Smart Use in theatres in October 2010 and signed a contract and a framework agreement in April last year. This will allow other trusts to adopt the same technology quickly without going through a formal procurement process.

“We really believe that within the NHS and the public service there’s very little inventory management, many have stock control solutions but not full inventory management solutions,” explained Hoskins.

The trust’s contract is for two years – worth £1.5m – and the framework agreement is in place for four. Hoskins said and the value of the framework agreement would depend on how many trusts took advantage of it.

As part of its arrangement with Smart Use, Portsmouth has run open days six times a year for trusts and customers to see how it is using the system.

Hoskins said Barts Health NHS Trust and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust had already started using the system and a number of other trusts were interested.