Headlines: June 27th, 2002

Reduced delays and fewer cancelled operations are the aims of new guidance published by the NHS Modernisation Agency.The guidance works on the premise that improving the performance of operating theatres is key to improving patient experiences and to improving staff morale.

Currently staff feel almost as frustrated as some of the 82,000 patients who last year had their operations cancelled on the day they were due for surgery. Even more patients cancel their appointments themselves or simply fail to turn up.

The ‘Step Guide to Improving Operating Theatre Performance’ has been published by the NHS Modernisation Agency’s Operating Theatre & Pre-operative Assessment Programme and is based on findings from work carried out at nine pilot sites since March of last year.

The guide consists of four stages that should be followed step-by-step by NHS Trusts to help them reduce cancelled operations and achieve their waiting and booking targets.

The guidance includes four ‘diagnostic toolkits’ which look at cancelled operations; patient experience; employee views and operating theatre performance.

Publication of the guide follows consultation with the Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Association of Surgeons, Association of Anaesthetists, British Association for Day Surgery (BADS) and the National Confidential Enquiry into Postoperative Deaths (NCEPOD).

All NHS Hospital Trusts have received between 25-35,000 pounds as an incentive to help them implement the guidance. Zero and one star Trusts (and two star Trusts that significantly underachieved on cancelled operations) are receiving additional financial support for full time project management and clinical leadership.