NHS trusts must continue to access a savings tool which has generated “significant benefit” to the health service, NHS Improvement has confirmed.

The regulator has told trusts to pay for a 12 month licence for the Purchasing Price Index Benchmarking tool, as the two year contract between provider AdviseInc and NHSI expires at the end of this month.

Since being rolled out across the NHS two years ago, the tool has enabled the comparison of £7.7bn of trust expenditure on goods and equipment.

In a letter to trusts, seen by HSJ, NHSI said the tool provides a “source of intelligence” for regional savings targets, and is “nationally important” for efficiency schemes such as Getting it Right First Time, Nationally Contracted Products, and the procurement transformation plan.

All trusts will pay £3,500 plus VAT to access the tool, which represents a price increase between £250 to £750 for some trusts.

NHSI previously said they would fund the tool on behalf of trusts, but last year shifted part of the cost onto trusts.

In December 2017 the regulator’s head of operational productivity Jeremy Marlow said NHSI was working on a “next generation” of PPIB, and documents seen by HSJ suggested a procurement would be run in spring 2018 for a new “analytics partner”.

But this plan appears to have been scrapped.

In their letter to trusts NHSI said 10 regional PPIB events will be held in the next 12 months to help trusts maximise their use of the tool, and webinars will also be set up.

An additional £1bn of spend will be captured by an “updated data model”, the regulator said.

A spokesman for the Health Care Supplies Association, which represents NHS procurement professionals, welcomed the news and said the tool had generated “significant benefit” to the NHS.

“It is a significant step towards the creation of a long held HCSA ambition to have a national perspective on NHS spend, pricing, and suppliers,” he said.