27 January 2017 - New ambulance uniform set to save the NHS millions

A standardised staff uniform for use by NWAS and other Ambulance Trusts has been rolled out nationally and set to deliver £3.4 million in savings for the NHS. It will save the cost of more than an entire year’s expenditure on uniform items over just four years – the equivalent of funding approximately 100 paramedics.

The scheme, which launched under a new supplier last Summer, looks to streamline the number of different clothing items used by paramedics and other ambulance staff nationwide, reducing the number of local variations on essential garments such as shirts, T-shirts, trousers, fleeces, jackets and high-visibility vests from over 80 to just 16. The project has also given Ambulance Trusts access to a larger pool of approved suppliers to order other work wear items and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including helmets and safety footwear, which will create additional cost savings and ensure a compliant route to market for the Trusts purchasing them.

Daren Hopkinson, Chair of the National Ambulance Procurement Group and Head of Procurement at North West Ambulance Service, said: "This project demonstrates how like-minded NHS organisations across the UK, with a common requirement, can successfully collaborate to achieve quality and efficiency benefits. Ultimately the 37% saving feeds into our organisations’ primary objective, which is sustained patient care."

As well as saving the tax payer an estimated 37% over the four year duration of the initial contract when compared to the previous costs, the garments have been independently tested to highly rigorous standards to ensure they are the most hard wearing and robust uniform items available to ambulance staff.

The National Ambulance Procurement Group (NAPG) identified that major savings could be made by standardising core items of uniform and worked closely with its procurement partner, the NHS Commercial Alliance, to create a framework agreement with suppliers who could guarantee to reach the high goals set for the project.

National Ambulance Procurement Delivery Manager at the NHS Commercial Alliance, James Richards, who managed the project said: "This landmark procurement has delivered an excellent outcome that has fundamentally changed the way the marketplace operates for Ambulance Trusts in this category, and achieved substantial savings and operational benefits."

Ambulance Trusts in the UK spend an estimated £3.2 million each year on uniform, including purchasing around 65,000 shirts and 55,000 trousers. Previously, different Trusts used different suppliers and had various local contracts and agreements in place, with widely differing prices and terms.