Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Walsall Community Health discovers ‘Lean’ approach
NHS Walsall Community Health
NHS Walsall Community Health is responsible for delivering community based health services within its area, with a focus providing ‘High Quality Care for All’ within the care, support, advice and guidance services it offers.
In response to NHS drive to raise quality, productivity and efficiency, management at NHS Walsall Community Health explored the option of adopting the ‘Lean’ principles, which are generally applied to industrial environments to create value for money for customers while eliminating waste.
They engaged the University to devise a way of transferring Lean principles into the provision of its health services.
A 12-month Knowledge-Based Partnership (KBP) was established between NHS Walsall Community Health and the University.
A KBP is the University’s flexible, 12-month alternative to Government-sponsored KTPs, which are usually two or three years in duration. KBPs transfer graduate-based knowledge, technology and skills into smaller businesses and public services.
The aim of the KBP was to develop individual and group expertise and to embed Lean thinking across all activities.
By combining students and staff from different schools, we were able to provide a unique combination of health care appreciation and in-depth ‘Lean’ knowledge and transfer experience. Through this collaboration, Lean knowledge was transferred into Walsall Community Health via a day-to-day Lean training programme and guidance.
Graduate Suresh Sing, with senior lecturer Simon Walker as academic supervisor, identified Walsall Community Health’s needs and applied the Lean tools most relevant to them. Discussions and training sessions addressed the extensive needs of the organisation and its services portfolio. Two approaches were introduced to deliver effective ‘variations within processes’ and greater supply control efficiency. Both approaches originated in Far East manufacturing.
Lean was successfully trialled across a number of test sectors. One clinical service reduced from more than 200 steps to less than 20. Another saw its 100 steps reduced to less than 15, also processing an additional 25 per cent more patients. Other test sectors successfully cut back their processes by 75 per cent and fifty per cent.
In supplies, modified procedures reduced stock costs by 60 per cent, while another department saved more than a third on its supplies.
The results produced significant service efficiency improvements and increased productivity and quality outcomes for patients.