As suppliers of precision cold forming services to manufacturers of medical devices, we keep a keen eye on developments in the medical and healthcare sector. Although we are but humble engineers our interest extends to successes and short fallings of the NHS, which uses a great number of the devices that feature our components.
Towards the end of last month, the NHS Confederation compiled a list of key statistics on the NHS. One statistic is possibly more important than any other, it states that NHS net expenditure increased from £64,173 billion in 2003/04 to £109,721 billion in 2013/14 – and is expected to increase by another £3,314 billion in 2015. At a time when public spending is being reduced to an absolute minimum, it is difficult to determine where the NHS can make cost savings while continuing to deliver the same high quality service it is renowned around the world for.
One thing is certain however, and that is that the NHS can’t afford to risk reducing its costs by using medical devices and equipment of a lower standard than that which is currently in use. Medical equipment of a lower quality is often less expensive, which brings obvious savings, but the long term effects of that equipment may be more costly to both the NHS and patients than we can estimate as a result of expensive and painful corrective surgery.
Naturally, low cost is not representative of low quality and this is an important point. The key is in how medical devices are manufactured; for example, precision cold forming is a cost-effective method of producing components metal devices. This doesn’t reduce product quality, in fact it is ideal for metal forming parts for medical devices. It not only reduces costs through significantly lower metal usage, but it improves component strength because edges and corners are free of burrs and are strain hardened.
By ensuring that medical devices are manufactured effectively and to the highest standards, the NHS can benefit from savings across a range of medical equipment by investing in high quality yet cost-effective options. It may not pay off the UK’s debt, but it’s a start.