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Vernacare shares lean best practice tips with Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Vernacare : 21 August, 2012  (Company News)
Vernacare hosts staff from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust to see how the company is achieving excellence through lean business performance.
Ten staff from estates, infection prevention, microbiology, acute nursing, theatres and other disciplines visited the  Bolton-based medical pulp manufacturer to discover how Vernacare has improved quality,  productivity and resource efficiency through using lean management methodologies.


Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has been a leader in the application of lean principles in health care since 2005. The lean inspired Bolton Improving Care System (BICS) is at the heart of the Trust's business plan and cultural transformation programme.

In common with Vernacare, the Trust is committed to using lean management systems and methods to increase quality and reduce waste while delivering what the patient needs in the most efficient way possible. Both organisations involve their staff at the heart of their lean activities, empowering them to drive improvements and to contribute fully to the improvements.

The visitors saw the entire Vernacare production process - from sorting of recycled newsprint through to packing of pulp washbowls, bedpans, urinals and other single-use products that are used to prevent cross infection in hospitals.

They learned how Vernacare utilises its staff as its 'eyes and ears' on the factory floor and promptly actions their suggestions for improving performance. They also saw the impact of the company's investment in lean Six Sigma methodologies, which pays dividends in enabling staff to continuously analyse machine performance to ensure optimum output levels and quality standards. This also means the company can carefully manage supply and demand, which has enabled it to achieve an excellent delivery record of 97.33 percent of orders on-time, in full, over the past 12 months.

The healthcare team witnessed the company's automated production system - a recent multi-million pound investment that is guaranteed to produce quality - ensuring that the company maintains its exemplary record for producing pulp products that do not leak. These high quality standards are evidenced by the fact that the company had just 0.00027 percent complaints last year from the 131 million items of pulp supplied.

Vernacare, which is an eco-friendly ISO 14001 accredited business told the visitors about its environmental management improvements, including  energy reduction and water recycling programmes.

Through its lean improvements and restructuring, Vernacare has been able to absorb huge increases in energy prices coupled with a trebling of cost of its main raw material of recycled newsprint.  The company has been able to pass on cost savings to the NHS, including its recent move to release a total of £1.5 million cash savings per year through to 2014.  This includes a £20,000 cash release saving to Bolton NHS Foundation Trust as part of an exclusive two-year  partnership agreement.

Adele Markland, Bolton's Senior BICS Facilitator, said: "It was very impressive to see how Vernacare values and empowers its staff to enable them to make a difference and feel such pride and involvement in their work. We were very impressed that Verncare uses lean methodologies to focus as much on quality as it does on productivity. It was very useful to gain a fresh perspective".

"BICS has helped staff deliver some major changes to healthcare in Bolton, which have ultimately saved lives. It has resulted in major improvements including lower mortality, reduced length of stay, and reduced waiting times. There is still more work to be done and visits such as this help us to continually improve."

Vernacare has held the BSI kitemark on its pulp since 1999. The company's single use pulp products are helping hospitals and care homes in 46 countries to combat the risk of infections, such as Clostridium difficile, MRSA and Norovirus.


The biodegradable pulp is used in conjunction with the Verna pulp disposal unit, an eco-friendly machine that disintegrates the pulp and washes it down the drain as part of a cold water cycle.


This process, known as the Vernacare System, was invented nearly 50 years ago in Bolton by Vernacare. The hygienic method of patient waste disposal is used by 95 percent of UK hospitals.
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