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How many nursing hours are lost searching for supplies?

How many nursing hours are lost searching for supplies?

Research has shown that nurses spend on average four hours per week searching for missing supplies, which is equivalent to 23 days per year1.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

The supply of goods and services may not be an area that immediately comes to mind as part of the NHS transformation agenda. However, research has shown that nurses spend on average four hours per week searching for missing supplies, which is equivalent to 23 days per year1.

When you consider these findings in the context of the 23% increase in the use of agency and contract staff by Foundation Trusts over 2013/142 following the Report of the Francis Enquiry3 and the Berwick Review in patient Safety4, the broader impacts become clearer.

Working in partnership with many NHS trusts, NHS Supply Chain’s Service Solutions Team often see improvements in in-trust supply chains translate into freed up capacity for nursing teams, enabling them to focus on their core responsibilities.

Improvements that have yielded some real “time” savings for nursing teams:

  • 16 days a year saved across theatre teams at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS FT when eDC Gold was implemented for managing orthopaedics consignment stock5 – view case study.
  • Elimination of nursing time used for stock management at the Royal Free NHS FT with the implementation of a materials management service by the dedicated team for ordering and stock control5view case study.
  • Five week reduction in order processing time at Kent Community Health NHS Trust by moving from manual ordering to NHS Supply Chain online ordering5view case study.

Six ways to improve your in-trust supply chain

In their work with a number of NHS Trusts, NHS Supply Chain's Service Solutions team have compiled a list of key points to consider that you may find helpful when implementing improvements in your organisation's internal supply chain.

  1. Ensure processes affecting performance are known - The process that needs improving needs to be clearly defined upfront; it is tempting to jump to solution-mode before understanding which processes are actually affecting performance.
  2. Engage the right stakeholders - They will provide valuable insight into the current processes, possible root causes of issues and may offer solutions that will ensure their support for any change programme.
  3. Give realistic timescales – Certain improvements may appear to need little time to consider and implement, for example to fix low stock levels simply order more stock, but a number of factors will influence why there is insufficient stock in the first place and these need to be considered before making changes.
  4. Deliver the easy wins – Capture and document improvements to illustrate the changes that the teams have already achieved. Communicating this to other departments can help to spread the good practice and secure buy-in to more complex change.
  5. Implement changes consistently across your trust - This helps you to avoid issues like inconsistent order and stock management processes as these will cause confusion and ultimately undermine confidence in the project and inhibit success.
  6. Data must be usable, accurate and easy to gather – Your Procurement and Supplies teams need data to demonstrate the impact on cost improvement and quality of services across your Trust. However, the data must also be easy to capture and process, to enable performance improvements to be shared and ultimately maintained.

Further information

To find out more about undertaking supply chain reviews with NHS Supply Chain’s Service Solutions team, contact your local NHS Supply Chain Account Manager.

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1. Survey run by GS1 in conjunction with Nursing Standard from 31st March 2010 – 14th April 2010. The survey included 861 nurses from across the UK -  
2. Monitor. NHS Foundation Trusts: consolidated accounts 2013/14  
3. Report of the Francis Enquiry -  
4. Berwick Review into Patient Safety -  
5. NHS Supply Chain case studies –

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