DHG CEO Graham Ewart
Financial wastage across the sector is just one of the current problems in healthcare at the moment. Graham Ewart, CEO of Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), a firm which specializes in the manufacture of medical devices, products and solutions for patients with limited mobility, discusses his views exclusively with THIIS Magazine…


I recently heard a story which I can only hope is an urban myth. A lightbulb, situated in a Consultant’s office of one London hospital, had stopped working.

The consultant brought a new bulb into his office the next day, intending to replace his office light and continue working. However, he wasn’t allowed and was told by the hospital’s facilities manager that a contractor would need to be called to check the light fitting and install a bulb sourced through its confirmed supplier. The cost of this – around £300.

This story is just one of a hundred examples every week of financial wastage across the sector and is representative of just one of the current problems in healthcare.

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From contractors ingrained into the system, to products bought time and time again, despite there being proven solutions that provide better outcomes and value-creation.

Tax rise

Last month, the Prime Minister announced a manifesto-breaking tax rise which will result in £12 billion worth of extra funding per year to tackle the NHS backlog and plug the gaps in health and social care.

Whether this will plug even a tiny section of both sectors is yet to be seen and much discussed, but where there is still wastage, it’s easy to see how any new funding will simply drain away.

And while the staffing and salary issues are a hot topic on the news agenda, my main concern lies with the product procurement running through the system. The lightbulb story hopefully is an exaggeration, but clearly demonstrates the problem.

As a CEO of a healthcare manufacturing company myself, I know how imperative it is that I’m on site to oversee the business. Not only the activities of the top level management, but the everyday aspects of the business, spotting where improvements can be made, where we can exchange supplies to decrease lead times or improve products, and importantly, where quality can be improved.

In my opinion, the fiscal responsibility of the healthcare system needs reviewing before we can even begin to look at plugging holes.

This isn’t just the viewpoint of someone like me in the industry itself, but of countless others. From the public who are faced with worrisome tax rises to fund the free-flowing gaps, right through to Westminster itself, where Conservative MPs have accused the sector of “wasteful spending” and “throwing other people’s money down a bottomless pit”, to quote former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry.

Circle of wastage

Contractual obligations, often signed years if not decades ago, have tied facilities into long term contracts with little flexibility or power to negotiate better terms, and in the face of rising material cost inflation.

This inability to procure efficiently has meant that even where competitor suppliers have released alternatives which offer greater innovation and a resulting higher level of care (or sometimes cheaper alternatives), the providers are stuck in a never-ending circle of wastage.

Put simply, the current procurement set up is wrongly enabling the service to continue to pay for products that do not enable patients to realise the most benefit.

This process can perhaps be most starkly demonstrated if we compare the public health service with those working in the private sector. The latter’s flexibility and business acumen to change suppliers where needed, whether for cost or innovation reasons, is far, far greater and this ability even runs through to staffing.

Private hospitals would have to dismiss over a third of their clinical staff and employ 30 per cent more management roles to be anywhere near the same position as the NHS currently sits.

We all know how extremely hard doctors, clinicians, porters, nurses and everyone involved in the care sector works, and I can’t help but feel we are doing these same staff, who we clapped for not so long ago, a disservice by not providing them with the equipment and innovation they need to improve patient quality.

Without an overhaul of procurement within the health system, we may find ourselves struggling to plug any gap, or move forward as a health service.

As the third largest employer in the world, the NHS is imperative to us all, and we all have a responsibility to improve it, not only for the hospitals, the staff and the supplier ecosystem, but for the patients themselves.

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https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Graham-Ewart-CEO-10.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Graham-Ewart-CEO-10.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorAnalysis & InsightsNewsroomOpinions & CommentsSector NewsDirect Healthcare Group,healthcare,medical,NHS,procurement,taxFinancial wastage across the sector is just one of the current problems in healthcare at the moment. Graham Ewart, CEO of Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), a firm which specializes in the manufacture of medical devices, products and solutions for patients with limited mobility, discusses his views exclusively with THIIS...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals