Lord Carter is to recommend that hospital trusts submit more of their staffing data to national bodies.

The Labour peer has been working with 32 trusts as part of his review into NHS efficiency, and says there are stark differences between them on staffing.

He said: “We’ve downloaded the trusts’ HR databases, and when you put the data against the income the differences are staggering.

“We would be making a recommendation that there will be a requirement for trusts to report nationally on the use of staff.

“The NHS has an extremely good HR database and because everyone is graded in the NHS you can go into it and say this department has got this many surgeons or this many nurses.”

Lord Carter said this could create ratios comparing a trusts’ income with their staff costs, but that it “wouldn’t be a requirement for people to report their staff utilisation on a regular basis”.

The data collections will be part of the Carter review’s work to establish “clearer guidance” on safe staffing levels.

The review team is working with regulators to produce a “safe range” for staffing at specialty level, which would help provide “air cover” when trusts faced inspection.

Lord Carter was speaking at a conference organised by the Association of British Healthcare Industries this week.

As part of his review he is also looking at NHS procurement, and has previously told HSJ about the “significant problem” of companies using different codes for products to avoid price comparisons.

He says “gagging clauses” are also sometimes used to prevent trusts discussing prices.

He told the conference: “I do admire the coding that some of you have got… but you’ve got a choice, you can help us or we can get it another way. If we are ever to actually get the money out [the NHS] has to behave collectively and get the data together. I see med-tech playing a big role but we do need a bit more information from you to help you play your role.”