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Lean healthcare training stratgey cuts hospital waiting times

Virtual College (Lean Healthcare Academy) : 24 April, 2007  (New Product)
A pioneering public and private sector partnership has reduced waiting times for 'small for date' baby scans at a West Yorkshire hospital from up to six weeks to within 24 hours.
Staff at Airedale NHS Trust have been working closely with the Ilkley based Lean Healthcare Academy to develop a series of pilot projects through a new training facility based at Airedale General Hospital, Steeton.

The first of these projects has now been successfully introduced in the hospital's midwifery unit - with overwhelming results.

Previously, pregnant women with undersize baby concerns had to wait between two and six weeks for exploratory scans.

By bringing together and working closely with internal and external stakeholders, timescales for scans have been cut to 24 hours, some even on a same-day-seen basis.

The Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) Project has seen the Lean Healthcare Academy working with its founding partner, Airedale NHS Trust, to deliver a range of services, including staff training, development and implementation support, complemented by a range of flexible online e-learning programmes.

The two bodies initially felt they could make a significant improvement in scan waits.

A meeting was called between all stakeholders - community midwives, GPs, the hospital's midwifery unit, the labour ward, Ante-Natal Day Assessment Unit (ANDAU), Ante-Natal Clinic, consultants, Ultrasound and maternity administration personnel.

Current procedures went under the Microscope to identify any areas where real improvement could be made.

With the entire IUGR procedure now dealt with by ANDAU and all stakeholders fully consulted and trained - patients were also involved in the initiative - the end result is much-reduced waiting times.

Sue Speak, matron for Hospital Midwifery at Airedale, said: 'The IUGR project has completely transformed our small for date baby scan procedures for both patients and staff'.

'In particular, it has made a real difference in helping to ease the anxieties facing new parents'.

'They can now be seen after three simple steps - the initial diagnosis and telephone call to ANDAU, followed by the scan itself and review by the attendant midwife, with the expectant mother then seen by a hospital consultant to instigate a plan of care'.

'This means that patients are only required to make one visit to the hospital, while for staff it is much quicker and easier because they only have to make one telephone call to arrange the scan'.

'Another important benefit is that the initiative should prevent unnecessary admissions, while to further improve communication a new patient information leaflet is also being produced to explain the advantages of the project'.

Jessica Isherwood, Airedale General Hospital's head of organisational development, with specific responsibility for the co-ordination of the Lean projects, commented: 'There is no doubt that by embracing 'lean' thinking, we have been able to raise the quality of care, reduce the waits and significantly improve the way we deliver care for our patients'.

'Over the coming months, we will be looking at further opportunities to make the whole pathway of the patient journey even better for potentially anxious parents-to-be.' Judith Clarkson, who heads up the Lean Healthcare Academy, explained: 'It is all about collaboration and co-operation within the NHS to create solutions that are less time consuming, much more cost effective - and make better use of public money'.

The Lean Healthcare Academy was established in August, 2006, to accelerate the adoption of 'lean' principles and methods in the healthcare sector by focusing on the elimination of wasteful practices.

The Lean Healthcare Academy is part of the Virtual College, also based in Ilkley, one of the UK's leading developers of e-learning solutions, which works widely within the public sector, including the NHS, Police and Fire Service.

Following its success with Airedale NHS Trust - other innovative pilot projects are also in the pipeline - the Lean Healthcare Academy is now seeking to establish a ten strong group of NHS Trust founder members, before expanding its remit nationwide and creating a network of regional training centres.

Rod Knox, chief executive of the Virtual College, stressed: 'One of the key objectives of the Lean Healthcare Academy is to facilitate the sharing of ideas throughout the healthcare sector'.

'We believe that the work we are undertaking with Airedale NHS Trust is unique and can be held up as a shining example of best practice and a 'lean' role model worthy of adoption by other NHS Trusts across the UK.'
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