A new website claims to help NHS Trusts cut procurements costs and improve the quality of the products they buy by mirroring the functionality of consumer price comparison websites.
Launched last week, Peto.co.uk is a private business that allows NHS suppliers to list their products and services (including IT equipment), while NHS Trusts can compare prices and user reviews.
The service is free to use for NHS Trusts and for suppliers to list up to 10 products, beyond which they must pay to add new products. The company says over two thirds of NHS Trusts – which together spend around £3 billion on goods and services – and 850 suppliers have signed up the service, and that over 13,000 products are now listed.
A report from the National Audit Office found last year that NHS Trusts could save around £900,000 each per year by reducing the variation in prices the pay for the same product. A pilot study by NHS body the Foundation Trust Network found that prices of consumables bought by Trusts can vary by up to 100% between suppliers.
"The benefits of transparent prices have been demonstrated in sectors such as airlines and personal insurance, where greater transparency has led to more informed choices by consumers, and lower, more uniform prices," Foundation Trust Network director Sue Slipman wrote for the Health Service Journal. "But NHS providers … face barriers in obtaining comparative price information even for commonly purchased consumables and clinical products."