Competition in the water market could save NHS money

NHS trusts urged to produce water strategies as market opens up to increased competition

NHS trusts need to produce water strategies if they are to take advantage of plans to open up the supplier market from 2017, experts have warned.

NHS Property Services sustainability expert, Jennifer Cawkwell, recently joined an industry forum discussion on the future of the water market after it is opened up to retail competition in three years’ time.

The move will mean all business, charity and public sector customers in England, including the NHS and private healthcare providers, will be able to switch their water and sewerage supplier in the same way they can with gas and electricity now.

The forum was hosted by Anglian Water Business from the Midlands and East region, where Cawkwell is sustainability lead.

We need to justify every penny not spent on patient care and so water management needs to rise up our agenda

Much of the debate centred on the importance of water saving and efficiency of water usage, just as much as billing expectations.

Cawkwell supported the view that all organisations need their own water strategy to complement their existing sustainability strategy, and this should be championed at board level.

She said: “Water deserves equal attention to energy management in terms of sustainability.

“The NHS requires water 24/7. There has to be contingency planning to make us resilient to change and better able to manage down our water use.

The NHS requires water 24/7. There has to be contingency planning to make us resilient to change and better able to manage down our water use

“We need to justify every penny not spent on patient care and so water management needs to rise up our agenda.”

This type of open market has been operating in Scotland since 2008 and although only 5% of business customers have switched supplier, about half have renegotiated terms with their existing providers due to the increased competition.

Cawkwell said NHS Property Services would make the most of the change in regulations and use its national bargaining power to achieve best value in the future.

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