Driving performance improvement in NHS patient pathways

The NHS is under immense pressure to drive efficiencies and improve performance.

Much of the health service is struggling to identify situations, especially as the very nature of its work is based around the unpredictable, and where a sudden emergency can push a planned operation aside, back or even into cancellation.

The key was increasing patient throughput by streamlining the patient pathway, and creating wriggle room at times of high demand, but which also equated to improved throughput of planned procedures.

Unipart Expert Practices, the consulting arm of Unipart Group, worked with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust to make a difference.

Theatres were identified as an opportunity to deliver patient-flow and a better patient and staff experience, which would also result in an increase in patient volumes that could deliver the required savings.

But how? There’s nobody better placed to identify the potential for improvement than the people directly involved, so UEP engaged with all stakeholders -scheduling teams, theatre staff, senior management – to look at current processes.

Working as a team, supported by UEP, they identified potential improvements and opportunities which could lead to a higher quality of patient and staff experience, as well delivering more return against budget.

The team identified 150 ideas, and coached by UEP, they began to take ownership of the development of these opportunities. Starting by identifying the root causes and then designing solutions, the team worked to implement their new ideas while resolving any difficult issues with the support of the Theatre and Surgery Division leadership team.

The result was a 20% reduction in late starts to operations, a 27% cut in late finishes, and a significant reduction in operations cancelled.

This shift in culture towards empowerment – and satisfaction at seeing real results – has been the key to sustaining the improvements. The operating theatre teams challenge each other to find solutions, and then work together to implement them, rolling out their approach to the other elective theatres.

All it takes is for the likes of UEP to liberate those teams’ skills, intelligence and experience to change lives in many ways.