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Lean Success at Bedford Hospital

May 29, 2009

MORE than 130 delegates from NHS Trusts across England travelled to Bedford last week to find out more about how Bedford Hospital is making services better for patients at a specially held conference.

The Lean thinking in the NHS conference, held on Tuesday, April 28, showcased the fantastic achievements made by staff at Bedford Hospital in improving services for patients by using Lean tools.

Bedford Hospital began using Lean, which is a system for examining and improving processes, in April 2007 to improve patient experience and get rid of common frustrations for patients, like excessive waiting or delays in discharge.

As a result, during the past year the hospital has achieved the following:

1. Zero waiting for patients needing plain film x-rays;

2. A reduction in the number of patients staying in hospital for more than 10 days from 7.28% to 3.68%;

3. A six per cent increase in day surgery rates to 84%;

4. A reduction in the number of cancelled operations;

5. Meeting the 18 week target three months ahead of the national target date

6. A reduction in diagnostic waits;

7. Zero MRSA bacteraemia for six months.

Susan Whittaker, service improvement manager at the Trust, explains: “Lean equips front-line staff with a methodology for looking at how their services run and how they could improve.

“As a Trust we recognised that staff on the ground, doing the job, were best placed to say how they thought their service could be improved for the benefit of patients. The Trust just needed to facilitate and support their desire to change and improve – which is what we’ve done with Lean. That has resulted in fantastic achievements like dramatically reduced waiting times, fewer patients staying in hospital for longer than necessary and fewer cancelled operations.

“The success of Lean at Bedford is really down to front-line staff who embraced the opportunity to change the way they provided their services to improve patient care and experience.”

Chief Operating Officer Lisa Hunt, said: “We are creating a new culture at Bedford Hospital – a culture that is motivated by a challenge and energized by success. We know what good looks like and are committed to continuous improvement to deliver the best possible care for our patients.”

In a statement provided to the conference, NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson, said: “I am really impressed by what you have achieved with Lean here at Bedford.

“The main thing is that you are putting patients at the heart of what you do, asking staff to put themselves in patients’ shoes. It’s a big cultural shift – much easier to say than to do – but is how we need to take the NHS forward.

“As you know, the NHS is on a fantastic journey to achieve our ambition of improving quality for our patients and being able to wrap services around the needs of individual patients and communities.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to be focusing on the sorts of things you are through Lean – planning your investments focusing on quality and putting patients at the centre of all you do.

“The benefits to productivity are there to take – which in turn enable our patients and communities to get consistently better quality of care.

“I hope to hear more of your successes in the future.”

More than 20 Lean projects are currently underway at Bedford Hospital, and staff at the Trust have set up a Lean network to share best practice across other NHS organisations.