NEW figures claim the NHS in Worcestershire is wasting more than £150,000 a year on energy and water bills.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance claims the cash – enough to pay the wages of five fully-qualified nurses – is being frittered away because bosses are overpaying and not bothering to shop around for the best deal.
The organisation, which campaigns to protect taxpayers and stop public money being wasted, investigated how much NHS sites across the country are paying for their energy and water compared to the national rates.
And Worcestershire Health and Care Trust is the county’s biggest overspender according to its calculations – overpaying by £16,815 and a massive £139,562 for energy.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance says almost £100,000 could be slashed from the bills of Malvern and Pershore Com-munity Hospitals alone.
The Malvern site’s annual energy spend of £169,342 is highlighted as an overspend of £70,965 and the annual energy bill of £74,945 at Pershore is argued to be more than £25,000 over the going rate.
Worcestershire Acute Hos-pitals Trust fares much better in the report, which claims it overpays by £1,646 for water at Redditch Alex-andra Hospital and £41 for water at the lone ward it operates in Evesham Comm-unity Hospital.
The report says the trust is paying a fair rate with its £286,504 annual water bill and £1,697,749 energy bill at Worcestershire Royal Hos-pital.
Nationally, the report says £41.4 million was wasted on overpaying for water and energy last year – enough to employ an extra 1,350 nurses.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, is calling for a “war on waste in the NHS”.
He said: “People pay a lot of money to support the NHS in their taxes and they expect to see every penny possible spent on front line care, not wasted overpaying for basics like energy and water. “Before trusts complain about pressure on their fin-ances now that the bumper increases in funding have dried up, they should take these kind of opportunities to secure better value for money.
“It is time for a war on waste in the NHS.”
A spokesman for Worc-estershire Health and Care Trust said energy rates are often decided out of its hands but stressed efficiency is a top priority.
“Clearly these buildings need to be run and maintained properly so we can deliver the best care for patients in comfortable environments and settings,” he said. “We are looking at all areas of our business to see where we can work and operate more efficiently.
“For example we are installing cavity wall insulation in some of our buildings, replacing ageing boilers, replacing windows and upgrading heating controls across our estate.
“In addition we use automatic meters in the majority of our smaller sites instead of estimated bills, meaning we get more accurate consumption data and financial savings. The majority of our energy supplies are delivered through contracts negotiated by the Government’s national procurement service which dictate the rates charged, although these are reviewed and re-tendered on a regular basis.”
A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Trust said: “We work very hard to ensure that we get the best value for money from all of our suppliers to enable as much of our income as possible to be spent on patient care. “We are also committed to operating in a way that promotes energy, water and materials conservation. We are pleased that this is reflected in the report.”
HOW CASH IS BEING WASTED POTENTIAL ANNUAL OVERSPEND ON WATER AND ENERGY BILLS (according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance):
Worcestershire Health and Care Trust: £139,562 on energy and £16,815 on water across 31 sites.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust: £1,687 on water and nil on energy across four sites
SITES WHERE THE MOST MONEY IS WASTED:
Malvern Community Hospital: £70,965 on energy and £5,699 on water
Pershore Community Hospital: £25,709 on energy (nil on water)
Kidderminster Health Centre: £6,006 on energy and £2,652 on water