Short answers to Daily Mail headlines part XXX

In B&Q they cost 20p. So why does the NHS spend £99 for a screw to put in your hip?

The ones at B&Q are steel, have wide tolerances and are not sterile.

The NHS buys screws that are titanium, with narrow tolerances and sterile.

As the article itself says:

We sell screws that are barely any different from the ones you see in B&Q, priced five for £1. Yet ours cost between £30 and £40 — each. And while they cost us, at most, £10 to make, we justify the mark-up because they are slightly finer. Oh, and sterile.

60-75% gross profit margin on a manufactured item is nothing out of the ordinary now, is it?

14 comments on “Short answers to Daily Mail headlines part XXX

  1. “The ones at B&Q are steel, have wide tolerances and are not sterile.”

    Oh, I don’t know. Given the recent fiasco with the dirty surgical instruments…

  2. Doh! Cost of application.

    it costs £lots-and-lots to fit each of these screws. If one is dud or causes a problem, it costs £lots-and-lots-and-lots-and-lots to put right.

    Correct purchasing decision is to up the spec and cost of the component to reduce failures. Overall savings are massive.

  3. 60-75% gross profit margin on a manufactured item is nothing out of the ordinary now, is it?

    For a comparison, someone did an analysis of a $500 iPad and worked out that it cost $259 in parts. Apple are making less than 50% margin on those, and that’s Apple.

    From the sound of the article, it’s people spending other people’s money, so they’re open to the sort of subtle corruption that brings.

    tim adds: Ah, but Tim, embedded in that $259 are the profit margins of all of the suppliers as well….

  4. I read the headline and knew that there was no point reading the article because the explanation was bound to be, at least in part, “because the screws are different, you stupid twat”.

  5. Perhaps they should offer a hip operation on the NHS where they use B&Q screws, and give you the cash difference, and see how many takers they get?

  6. I once worked on a space produce where we used integrated circuits that were functionally equivalent to Radio Shack parts, yet cost a hundred times as much, The difference? The paperwork. The ‘certified’ parts had to be traceable practically from the sand used to make the silicon wafers.

    Tim adds: No, not quite, there’s more to it than that,. Radiation hardening…..

  7. The manufacturers of semiconductor devices publish data sheet specification on their components. They all carry a standard caution that the use of such components in any life support or safety critical application, is expressly prohibited by the manufacturer. If you want to use their stuff in that kind of application, you have to negotiate with them and get their authorisation.
    But even if they didn’t, standards agencies have jurisdiction over what you can put on the market. So one way or another, sub-standard parts, or parts with no provenance, are kept out of the supply chain.

  8. Basically the Simple Shopper is buying the pricey ones.

    I’ll bet the self-same screws cost less in the US where they go out to (real) competitive tender for stuff like this.

    Basically, as usual, we’re being screwed.

    (sorry)

  9. Only the surgeons know which items they can work with most accurately and given that these screws are often an alternative to a full hip replacement, they are a total bargain.

    When I look at the giant money pit that is the NHS the absolute last place I want savings to be made is on the quality of the screws that will, for the rest of my life, hold my leg together.

  10. The stuff about what the rep does in the theatre is also nonsense. They are basically there to tell the surgeon how to do manufacturer-specific things like activating release mechanisms or squeezing a cement dispenser, they don’t advise on how to fix the hip. I’m in theatres with these people every day. It’s so confused that I wonder whether the “whistleblower” is a receptionist from a prosthesis firm, or a cleaner from a hospital, who has caught glimpses of what goes on but doesn’t really have a grasp of the dynamics.
    It’s a bit like looking at my Steinway grand and saying, that wood should only cost 500 pounds!

  11. The ‘it’s sterile’ argument is too funny, they should add go-faster-stripes for extra value and perhaps have the local shaman add a spell for extra healing properties… for everything else, there is the autoclave.

    The only expensive thing about this type of screw is the regulatory monopoly, and the gouging manufacturer and their overpaid sales force.

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