The National Audit Office has saved the taxpayer £1.3bn over the past three years, meeting its target to save £8 for every £1 it costs to run, Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said as it released its annual report last week.Four reports issued over the past year looked at cost-effectiveness in the NHS. In total, the reports on medical equipment, infection control, bed management and hip replacement identified potential one-off savings of £400m and annual savings of £150m by spreading good practice. The report says subsequent public accounts committee hearings in Parliament show that MPs are 'consistently frustrated by the difficulty in driving through beneficial change in the NHS' and says health service managers need to use developments in financial and clinical governance to 'demonstrate and be clearly accountable for improving performance'.

Helping the Nation Spend Wisely. NAO annual report 2000. www.nao.gov.uk