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NHS invests £30m in hi tech cancer therapy

Bulk buying deal for 20 new radiotherapy machines reaps £3m saving

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Department of Health has struck a £30 million deal to purchase 20 new radiotherapy machines, which can deliver both standard radiotherapy and more precise treatments which can target tumours in difficult to access areas of the head and neck.

The bulk buy deal, the biggest ever made by the NHS for hospital equipment, was made by NHS Supply Chain and will save the NHS £3 million compared to the price hospitals would have had to pay if they bought each machine individually.

The money saved will be used by hospitals where the machines will be deployed to pay for front line patient care. This is in line with the government’s new NHS procurement strategy - published earlier this month - which sets out a plan to harness the sheer size and purchasing power of the NHS to strike better deals. The £3 million saving is enough to pay for 500 hip or knee replacements or 4,000 cataract operations.

The machines can be adjusted to deliver standard or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) which is a particularly important form of treatment for head and neck cancers because it can be used to target the tumour more precisely, meaning there are fewer side-effects for patients. This can help improve the patient’s quality of life after treatment and save lives.

Since April 2013, cancer treatments have be planned and paid for nationally by NHS England.

The Department of Health has invested £173 million to expand its radiotherapy capacity and has given Trusts the responsibility of purchasing, providing and maintaining their radiotherapy machines. NHS organisations will need to put requests to NHS Supply Chain to purchase the machines, at the discounted rate.

Health Minister Lord Howe said: "We want the NHS to have the best cancer services in the world and by investing £30 million in these additional machines, patients will have better access to this highly effective form of treatment.

"This deal means patients will get first class cancer care but it is also a great bit of business. It is a fantastic example of how the NHS can use its size and bulk buying power to save money - millions will be saved for the NHS, which can be ploughed back into patient care."

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