Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is now carrying out hundreds more operations per year with the help of an innovative new scheduling tool we’ve developed to optimise the use of operating theatre time.
Across its four hospitals and 68 operating theatres, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) was falling short of national targets to treat patients within 18 weeks of being referred. Waiting lists were continuing to grow, leaving patients feeling frustrated. The trust didn’t have space for more operating theatres, and it couldn’t recruit the extra staff to run more surgery sessions. So it called us in to help use its operating theatre time more efficiently.
Scheduling is an important part of hospital management. Done well it can optimise access to services, reduce wait time for patients and reduce the cost associated with delays and mismanaged cancellations. At LTHT, schedulers were booking operations based on anecdotes or estimates, or historic booking rules. So surgical teams might overrun their theatre time. Or they might get to the end of a list of patients with a proportion of the day’s theatre time left unused.
Our business information and analytics experts came up with the idea for an innovative tool to make scheduling work better by harnessing data on past operations. It helps staff schedule accurately based on hard evidence about patients’ needs and how long individual surgeons take to carry out specific procedures like hip replacements and cataracts. And by drawing on data for the last two years it helps scheduling keep up with developments in surgical techniques or experience.
But it was linking the new tool to the trust’s waiting list that truly transformed their approach to scheduling. We made the tool part of a new standardised scheduling process across the hospitals and integrated it with existing IT systems. Today schedulers can find the right patients to fill any unused time in surgery lists quickly and efficiently.
After only four months, the trust is forecasting an extra 488 operations a year. Early-finishing theatre sessions have reduced by an average of 105 hours in total per month and overruns have reduced by 30 hours per month.
The trust is now considering using the tool beyond day case and orthopaedics and across the hospitals’ other specialities.
.@PA_Consulting helped Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to carry out hundreds more operations per year.