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Poor planning and management is responsible for one in 10 operation sessions being cancelled by trusts

29th Aug 2002
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Reaction from Frank Steer, Director General of the Institute of Quality Assurance to:

The Audit Commission’s report, which found that poor planning and management is responsible for one in 10 operation sessions being cancelled by trusts.

“The findings are extremely worrying but more importantly it indicates that poor planning and management is having detrimental effects right across the NHS, not just in operating theatres. This can threaten lives.

“The IQA has been lobbying government to implement proven management practices in the NHS but every time it falls on deaf ears. We’re not trying to sell them anything, simply to point them in the right direction – not management mumbo jumbo but systems that have categorically improved management practices within healthcare environments across the world.

“The extra funding promised to the NHS as a result of raised taxes should be invested in adopting practices that will secure the NHS’s future, not just reduce a waiting list. Management must focus on its customers in the same way industry does – it should be restructured on the basis of what can and should be delivered to patients.

“At the very least a management process should be introduced on a trial basis to one NHS Trust achieving average performance. The lessons that will be learnt from this exercise can then be applied across the board.

“Six Sigma, for example, is one such management process that is guaranteed to reduce costs and improve outputs. It limits defects to 3.4 in one million outputs. One Six Sigma project in one hospital in the United States produced £½ million of savings in procurement and reporting procedures within a year. With 8% of the NHS budget (£4.5 billion) currently being spent putting right what has gone wrong, imagine the effect the use of Six Sigma techniques would have on Britain’s health service and this is not the only tool in the box.”

For more information or to talk to Frank Steer, please contact:
Jane Boston or Sebastian Blott at Corixa Communications on
0117 949 3394

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