NHS England has unveiled a new nationwide system for purchasing expensive medical devices which, it claims, could save the NHS over £60 million in its first two years, partly through reducing variation in cost.

NHS England spends around £500 million a year reimbursing specialist units for devices, such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and bespoke prosthetics, but there can be significant differences in the prices trusts pay for the same products, as well as in the rate of adoption of devices across the UK.

A single national approach for purchasing and supplying such devices has now been agreed between with the NHS Business Services Authority, which will be run by NHS Supply Chain.

According to NHS England, by taking a more rigorous commercial approach, the advantage of economies of scale and reducing price variations, “it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds can be saved from the annual cost of devices currently being purchased - savings which will be reinvested into other specialist services and treatments”.

A national supply chain should also improve access for patients to new technologies by allowing novel and effective devices, with proven effectiveness and value to be adopted quickly, easily and at the best price, officials noted.