Saturday, January 31, 2015

Success in Ipswich

Back in 2012, my colleague and I ran some workshops for senior management and clinical leaders introducing the Lean philosophy and some of its practices at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.  As noted at the time:

We started with an introduction based on the Toast Kaizen video produced by and featuring GBMP president Bruce Hamilton.  Then it was off to gemba, the "factory shop" floor, where the class members shadowed a member of the staff. The idea was to practice observation skills and try to identify the various types of waste found in all organizations. 

The class members gained a new appreciation for the degree of difficulty faced by their colleagues in doing their everyday jobs.  They noticed impediments, inefficiencies, and work-arounds.

Later, I gave everyone a homework assignment, which was to answer the following question: 

"Waste exists in Ipswich Hospital because the people who work here are uncaring and lazy. True or False? Provide evidence in support of your answer." 

I suspected (and hoped!) that the answer would be "false," and it always was.  People understood that the well-intentioned and hard working people in the hospital face the common problems of complex organizations.  

Phil Windsor offered the following answer:

To say waste exists at Ipswich Hospital because the people who work here are uncaring and lazy is a statement that couldn't be further from the truth. 

The people that work at Ipswich are uncaring and lazy is a generalisation as extreme as saying they are all angels. Let's be real, we all have our bad days, but an organisation whose primary function is the health and welfare of others can not attract a workforce who are naturally lazy and uncaring. If that was your disposition why would you work at all. 

Wasted resources are a result of our inability to re-use the by product of our activity. It may be argued that it's ok to accept a degree of this and it may also be argued that everyone is entitled to an off day. The question is how much are we willing to accept and how much better would the world be if we all accepted a bit less?

Well, it appears that Phil and his colleagues really went to work applying lessons from this experience and more.  In a note today from surgeon Isam Osam:

Since taking the role he has transformed the emergency department. Lean is about a culture and incremental improvements. This is a great example!

And he linked to this story from the Ipswich Star:

Ipswich Hospital’s emergency department one of the top 10 performing for hitting Government target for seeing patients in four hours 

Ipswich Hospital bosses praised the “amazing” work of emergency department staff last night, as it emerged the unit was among the top 10 in the country for seeing patients within four hours.  

New figures released by NHS England put the Heath Road trust as the eight best out of almost 140 departments for hitting the Government target of seeing, treating and admitting or discharging 95% of patients in that timeframe, between October and December. It averaged 95.7% in the three months, according to the data.

Bravo to Phil and others on the team!  As noted in the story:

“It is a fantastic tribute to not only our amazing emergency department team, but in fact the whole hospital."

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