I’m delighted that our Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) at Barking Community Hospital featured in a recent NHS Providers case study.
Ann Hepworth, Director of Strategy and Partnerships, and Joe Huang, consultant in cancer and Associate Medical Director for Reducing Unwarranted Clinical Variation, spoke about the additional diagnostics capacity we’ve provided at the site. This has proven invaluable in helping to address our waiting list backlog and in reducing major drivers of health inequalities such as cancer and heart disease, which, the later they’re diagnosed, can lead to worse patient outcomes.
The next phase will see us establish a new, self-contained modular building on the site to house scanning equipment, alongside consultation rooms for a range of other tests, alongside suitable waiting, changing and other public facilities, such as hearing induction loops, and landscaped outside space.
Urgent and emergency care focus at King George Hospital
The CDC was featured as part of a wider piece on patient flow. I talk regularly about the need to improve flow – the movement of patients coming into A&E, onto a ward, and back home – if we are to improve performance and ensure patients have a better experience.
Louise Dark, Managing Director for King George Hospital (KGH) has been doing some focused work over the last few weeks with the A&E team and PELC who run our urgent treatment centres (UTCs) to improve our Urgent and Emergency Care pathway at KGH. It's encouraging that we’ve already started to see some small improvements.
We’ve implemented changes to the streaming queue in the atrium so patients are directed to the appropriate service more quickly, and those who need PELC for a minor illness or injury, move into the UTC area so they have more privacy while they wait. The teams also spoke to patients as part of the focus weeks, and I’m really pleased to hear they gave us some fantastic feedback about the care we provide and were very positive about the changes.
Well done to Louise and the teams involved.
Improving the use of our theatres
The work Louise has been doing shows the value in working with our partners to address issues. We also know we have to focus on making our internal processes effective and efficient. Our recent theatre utilisation work highlights the difference this can make.
We’re one of the top-performing London trusts when it comes to delivering high volume, low complexity surgery. Now we’re reducing the time patients wait for treatment even further by increasing use of our theatres to 90 per cent of available sessions, up from 84 per cent in early 2022, and significantly ahead of the 85 per cent national target.
Alongside empowering ownership of lists and the introduction of a live dashboard, the team have also been using the 6/5/2 process, where they identify surgeons six weeks in advance, offer unused sessions to other teams if not filled five weeks in advance (to prevent theatres sitting empty), and locking down sessions with staffing rotas two week in advance.
This allows us to notify patients of their surgery at least two weeks in advance, which has massively improved the rate of non-attendances, dropping from around ten per cent to just over three per cent.
Making better use of our theatres from July to December 2022 also helped raised an additional £546,000 for our Trust, all through efficiency gains and not cuts.
Lastly, we’re making good progress with our £14m programme to expand our KGH Elective Surgical Hub, including two new theatres which will give us the ability to do at least 16 additional operations a day. The foundations are in and soon we’ll start to see the shape of the building emerge before work gets underway on the internal aspects. It’s due to be completed in spring 2024.