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Case study: Patient-centred culture - partnership with the Virginia Mason Institute

  • Organisations we regulate,
  • Hospitals

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust placed into special measures following an inspection in October 2013.

This is one of five trusts working with the Virginia Mason Institute as part of a five-year partnership led by NHS Improvement.

The institute teaches lean methods to support a patient-centred culture and helps them develop their own ‘Kaizen Promotion Office’ (KPO) team. Kaizen is a Japanese word for continuous improvement. The KPO team is an in-house centre of excellence that helps to adopt continuous improvement methods across the whole organisation.

The trust focuses on two elements of the Virginia Mason approach:

  • lean-based improvement methodology, applied consistently across all improvement projects
  • cultural shift towards proactive improvement

The KPO team’s work involves observing processes in action, making notes and timing stages to identify opportunities for improvement. This can seem unfamiliar to hospital staff, and the team relies on good communication to win hearts and minds.

The trust focused on two areas, voted for by staff, patients and visitors:

  • the first 24 hours in hospital for frail and older patients
  • cancer diagnostic processes

One of their diagnostics successes was a large reduction in the time taken to prepare samples. The two teams which processed the samples used to work nearly 200 metres apart and are now next to each other. Benefits from this were:

  • time saved by people not needing to walk between the two teams
  • reduced error rate for documentation
  • more analyser cycles can be run
  • time taken to prepare biopsy samples for analysis has reduced from 22 hours and 14 minutes, to four hours and 52 minutes
  • patients are more likely to have their results on the same day

The trust came out of special measures in March 2017.

Last updated:
15 May 2018