The government’s newly appointed quality tsar will work with Lord Carter’s team to drive out ‘unwanted variation’ in clinical practice across the NHS, it has announced.

Tim Briggs, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Trust, has been appointed as director of clinical quality and efficiency.

Tim Briggs

Tim Briggs will work with other surgeons to roll out the programme to other clinical specialities

He has previously led a programme in orthopaedics to reduce expensive revision surgery, through cutting down on less effective surgical products and promoting the best techniques to improve infection rates.

He will now work with other leading surgeons and physicians to roll out the programme to nine further clinical specialities.

Professor Briggs said: “In light of the financial austerity the NHS faces, we have a duty to make sure that we reduce unwanted variation and complications, in order that our resources can provide patients with the high quality care they require.”

His work will feed into Lord Carter’s review of NHS efficiency, which has today identified potential savings within each clinical specialty by 2019-20.

Potential savings identified

  • General medicine: £381,421,388
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology: £361,829,152
  • Trauma and orthopaedics: £286,386,504
  • Pathology: £255,975,263
  • Cancer services: £255,171,344
  • Emergency medicine: £254,004,846
  • General surgery: £234,862,688
  • Community nursing: £217,088,986
  • High cost drugs: £213,338,337
  • Paediatrics: £209,379,838
  • Intensive and critical care: £209,217,617
  • Cardiology: £184,392,395

The figures encompass potential savings in workforce management, medicines, estates and procurement, following a comparison of hospital activity and cost data.

Lord Carter has this week started sending individual estimates to trusts of the sum he believes they can save, with the aim of finalising and publishing these targets early next year. They will be published alongside “model hospital” information, which will highlight areas of best practice from different hospitals. He told HSJ he was also working with regulators to establish “clearer guidance” on safe staffing levels.

Lord Carter will produce 'clearer guidance' on nurse staffing levels