According to Poulter, healthcare organisations across the UK must gather the right data that will allow them to understand exactly where their money is being spent.
By identifying waste, he claims, NHS Trusts can then free up extra money to spend on frontline care.
“I’m very pleased to say that since we launched a year ago a drive to improve healthcare procurement, that against projected trends we saved almost £250m and that’s a big achievement,” Poulter claimed.
“But there’s a lot further we can go. I think we could possibly be looking at a billion pounds worth of savings across the health sector just from improvements in procurement alone,” he added.
Speaking at last week’s THINK Cloud for Health event in London, the Health Minister said that it was no longer just a “nice thing to do,” NHS organisations are now required to analyse their spend and use it wisely or risk losing any financial support they receive.
“When we give financial support to Trusts in difficulty will now expect, not ask for but expect, best practice in procurement, best practice in estate management and best practice in reducing temporary staffing and other unnecessary costs to the Trust,” Poulter claimed.
“This is something that everybody has a duty to make sure they take seriously because it’s about freeing up money for frontline patient care,” he added.
For Poulter, this exercise in cost reduction is not simply about easing financial pressure on the NHS – instead, the main driving factor behind it is improved patient care.
“This is not just an exercise in finances, it’s also something that can help us make sure we’re buying the right things to deliver the best care for patients,” he claimed.
Poulter also told delegates at the THINK Cloud event that improving technology is one of the most effective ways to deliver efficiencies in our healthcare system.
“The opportunities through technology, improving technology, is part of delivering efficiencies in our health system, it’s also about improving the way we care for patients,” he claimed.
“If we have the right data that can be used to go about improving patient care, but also improving procurement data and any of our procurement practices also means that we are able to use the right equipment, the right goods and services, in order to support clinicians delivering high quality care,” the Minister added.
The next event in the THINK series of conferences is THINK Cloud for Government, taking place on Tuesday 10th February at the Business Design Centre in London.