Could NHS operating theatres be more efficient?

Could NHS operating theatres be more efficient?

7th November 2017

NHS operating theatres waste two hours per day – and 280,000 more routine operations could be done per year across the country – according to a new report.

The study, by industry watchdog NHS Improvement, claims that the administration and procedures around routine (ie non-serious) operations could be made more efficient.

It analysed 1.64m routine operations across 100 NHS Trusts in 2016, including included surgical procedures on the ear, nose and throat, eye operations and orthopaedic medicine.

The report does not suggest making surgeons work harder or longer: it suggests that more effective planning, reducing the number of late starts and increasing early finishes could make a huge improvement.

NHS ‘wasted time’ debate

Unsurprisingly, the report generated especially heated debate, with the acute shortage of beds featuring frequently as a reason for lost theatre time.

Speaking to the BBC, Prof Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “There’s this constant backlog all the way through – so the new patient cannot get into hospital because the last patient is still in the intensive care unit and as yet cannot get back to the ward because the ward patient cannot go home.”

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