Staff time savings and more surgeries for patients in North Cumbria

A new software solution is saving hours of staff time while increasing the number of surgeries a North Cumbria NHS trust can perform.

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust has revolutionised how they plan patients for elective surgery with a new digital tool which is saving theatre planners over three hours per week and allowing the trust to perform up to 10% more surgeries.

Previously, North Cumbria’s booking and scheduling processes relied on basic excel spreadsheets and manual data entry. This meant that once lists were shared, information was often out of date and staff had to use multiple systems to gain a basic overview of activity.

The new software brings all the relevant information into one place and makes it much easier for staff to schedule theatre work. For example, one task that previously took three to four hours can now be completed in just 10 to 15 minutes.

By relying on accurate and timely information, the Trust has also been able to make more efficient use of their operating theatres, increasing the number of surgeries per theatre session than in the six months before the tool was introduced.

The use of the software has completely digitalised the theatre scheduling process, from day-to-day operational management by senior colleagues to medical secretaries and admin teams using it for all aspects of theatre planning.

Jordan Todd, Service Manager for Theatres, Anaesthesia and Critical Care at North Cumbria, said: “This software has given everyone, from our board members to our medical secretaries, a clear and accurate picture of planned surgery activity for the first time.

“The tool allows us to use a series of metrics to helps us keep track of trajectory against our wider objectives and push ourselves to be as efficient as we can.

“We are not only saving staff time but have significantly improved how we use our surgical theatres, helping us see an increase to cases per list.”

Dean Oliver, Executive Director of Performance, Planning and Strategy said: “This is a really good tool as it brings together a mix of important patient data sets into one system which allows the more efficient and effective use of theatre times and ultimately helps reduce patient waits”.

Due to the success of the tool, the Trust is now using it to plan all elective appointments too.

Following successful pilots, NHS England is funding the deployment of the solution in trusts across the country including North Cumbria, ensuring that patients are prioritised better and seen faster.

NHS England is currently procuring federated data platform software for the NHS, which will provide each integrated care system and NHS trust with cutting-edge technology. This will enable staff to use data and information to develop and share innovative solutions to better manage capacity, reduce waiting lists, deliver better care, and improve outcomes for patients.  

The capabilities this tool provides will be available through the federated data platform to provide trusts with the information they need to understand patterns, solve problems, and plan services for their local populations and patients.