The Emergency Services Collaborative, a national programme to raise the performance of Accident and Emergency Units is using the Internet to link up 200 sites. The programme supports managers and clinicians in devising and implementing projects that will help them to achieve the NHS Plan target to clear patients admitted to Units within four hours. The 14 month long projects have start dates staged up to July 2003.Learning from one another by adoption and adaptation of successful improvements is crucial to the Programme. The Collaborative employs improvement methodology widely tested in the US and in Collaborative programmes in the UK, such as the Cancer Collaborative. Local managers analyze problems, devise solutions and then test short cycles of improvements to address specific bottlenecks and constraints. Sharing best practice with case studies available on the Internet supports this process. To stimulate expansion of the case study library as the projects roll on, there is a template for the submission of new case studies.
Using the Internet in this way not only keeps the 200 sites in constant touch with developments, but it also allows managers in associated health and social services organizations to see how they fit in to the big picture.
The improvements will be robustly measured, and as projects are implemented details of changes will be available on the web-site. The Internet also plays a vital role in this process by allowing project managers to download a survey form before the launch of each project to establish a local performance benchmark.
The Collaborative is creating widespread interest because the improvement methodology could be applied to any area of public service.