The Academy of Medical Royal Colleages has produced a report on waste in the NHS. It estimates that £2 billion a year could be saved if doctors changed their behaviour, according to the BBC (here). The report identifies 16 ways in which this can be achieved. These include:
- medication reviews would reduce the number of hospital admissions (6% of the total) that arise from adverse drug reactions – saving £466 million
- reducing unnecessary scans – saving £200 million
- more frequent ward visits by consultants to speed up hospital discharges
- reducing the number of instruments needed during surgery
- more efficient use of operating theatres through better scheduling
This coincides with another report, commissioned by the Department of Health, that estimates that the cost of unsafe care in the NHS could be as high as £2.5 billion.
It seems to me that it is taking the medical profession a long time to get something fairly simple. Making your process lean drives up the quality of the process – it’s a win-win. Take one example that reduces waste, quoted in the AMRC report. Surgeons at the Royal Throat Nose and Ear Hospital in London have reduced the number of instruments required for cochlear implant operations, from 96 to 28. Not only does this save on sterilising equipment, wear and tear, and storage, it almost certainly makes the operation easier and safer to perform. With only 28 instruments to select from the surgeon is much less likely to muck it up. Get it, doctors?