Insight

Accelerating Scan4Safety Agenda through Inventory Management Optimisation

From Lord Carter’s 2015 report through to Scan4Safety in 2017 mandating GS1 and PEPPOL compliance, the call for improved patient safety through better inventory management prior to and following the COVID-19 pandemic has long been stated. Yet despite these initiatives, many Trusts are still grappling with a lack of the right systems and processes to enable achievement of these aims.

In June 2023 the government published a mandate to address the most urgent needs for the NHS. Amongst the three key priorities outlined, a target was set for all Trusts to adopt barcode scanning of high-risk medical devices and submit data to the national, mandatory Medical Device Outcome Registry, by March 2024.

Nine months later and we’ve seen several programmes and initiatives kick start with the aim of supporting the advancement of patient safety through barcode scanning, including the NHS Supply Chain inventory management programme, which Akeso supported to mobilise, as well as more recently the reinvigoration of the Scan4Safety programme.

Whilst there has been notable investment, a significant number of Trusts do not have the right inventory management systems and processes in place to enable Scan4Safety effectively. Based on our analysis, we understand that almost half of acute Trusts in England do not currently have sufficient capability to meet the mandate requirements set out through barcode scanning capabilities. Furthermore, we estimate that only 30% of acute Trusts have the capability to manage inventory at the point of care and therefore meet Scan4Safety requirements.

Untapped Benefits within Inventory Management

Given the significant gap between Trusts with and without barcode scanning capability, there is an opportunity to tap into the wide-reaching benefits that optimised inventory management can achieve – from improvement to patient safety, greater traceability and operational productivity, to cash-releasing supply chain efficiencies. The below outlines some of the expected benefits Scan4Safety through inventory management optimisation can bring.

Based on our analysis we estimate that the average Trust could achieve the following key benefits:

  • Equivalent of 5 clinical WTE released back to critical patient facing activities
  • One-time cash releasing benefit of c. £1 million and recurring financial benefit of £50,000-£100,000
  • Wider supply chain and logistics efficiencies through greater visibility and control of ordering as well as improved supplier relationship management

However, despite this, the reality can be quite different for many Trusts. With common barriers, including siloed working across functions and Trust data maturity, understanding the landscape and due consideration to the change required is critical to the success of achieving positive and sustainable change.

Key Success Criteria

Based on our experience we have summarised the key success criteria that are required to effectively optimise inventory management through barcode scanning. Together these key success criteria make up the core fundamentals which enable inventory management optimisation best practice.

How We Can Support You

Akeso have worked hand-in-hand with a number of Trusts from business case development and benefits modelling through to implementation and benefits realisation, including most recently the establishment of the NHS Supply Chain inventory management programme. As such we are well positioned to support Trusts and ICBs navigate the current landscape and support accelerate your Scan4Safety proposition.

Sign up to access our free ‘how to’ guide for further information on how healthcare organisations can accelerate Scan4Safety through inventory management optimisation:

Scan4Safety Acceleration Guide

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If you would be interested to discuss how we can help you in this space, please get in touch with Olivia for an initial conversation (olivia.jeffery@akeso.co.uk).

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Olivia Jeffery

Olivia Jeffery

Manager
Case Study

ICS Procurement Collaborative

We supported the design, development, and implementation of a collaborative procurement function across North East London, including the delivery of over £1m in savings on non-pay spend, service specific ICS category strategies, and standardised processes

INSIGHT

North East London (NEL) are one of the largest integrated care systems across England, formed of five Trusts, with a total third-party, non-pay spend over £1.2bn.

Akeso were engaged to analyse this spend and deliver £1m in cost savings efficiencies through the collaborative model, in addition to designing a new operating model for procurement services, develop collaborative category strategies, and transform singular service provisions into integrated delivery models.

ACTION

  • Akeso developed an initial opportunity assessment analysing the ICS’s total £1.2bn non-pay spend (60% non-clinical products and services; 19% clinical products and services; and 21% on drugs)
  • From this, Akeso delivered a series of collaborative opportunity recommendations, which ranged from 3rd-party spend cost reduction initiatives to yield ‘hard’ benefits, to ‘softer’ service enhancement and capability development initiatives
  • We developed an overarching governance and reporting structure to track opportunities and value delivery and designed a detailed workstream and category management structure and supported value-delivery projects including; CIPs, procurement exercises, strategy design, and business case development across clinical products and services, estates and facilities, corporate services, and IT, data, and systems

RESULTS

Across the programme we developed and implementation a new collaborative operating model, including an overarching collaborative governance structure, delivered over £1m in collaborative annual savings, developed approved service specific business cases, consistent ways of working, processes, standardised templates, and the upskilling of NEL team members

NEL team

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Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall

Associate Director
Case studies – newspapers
Case Study

Lateral Flow Device Delivery Logistics Management

Akeso have supported Tanner Pharma Group UK’s successful delivery of over 300m units of lateral flow devices (LFDs) to the UKHSA from October 2021 to May 2022.

INSIGHT

TPGUK were contracted by the UKHSA in October 2021 to supply LFDs through an intricate and complex global supply chain.

Combined with the emergence of the Omicron variant and in the lead up winter 2021, the project rapidly escalated in scale and scope.

Akeso, as supply chain and procurement experts, were contracted to support and oversee all elements of the logistics and delivery process.

ACTION

Our priority was to understand manufacturing capacity which would ultimately dictate the delivery schedule. We had numerous meetings with manufacturing partners in China to review their production capacity and plan the downstream deliveries accordingly.  Additionally, we developed a flight tracker to balance flights booked against the production capacity.  In this way, we ensured that cost effective utilisation of flights while also maximising the capacity to inbound LFDs into the U.K. at a time of increased demand.

Initial support regarding logistics tracking and planning progressed to overall management and integration with flight planning elements.  We led stakeholder engagement and management through the daily operations review calls schedule with Kuehne and Nagel (TPGUK’s logistics sub-contractor) and twice weekly contract progress report updates to UKHSA.

RESULTS

Akeso supported the delivery of over 300m LFDs to the UKHSA.  This involved over 150 flights via 27 different routes involving 13 Chinese and 10 U.K airports over four months. With logistic and planning improvements, we delivered a relative reduction of 28% in flight costs, a 33% damage rate reduction and a 40% relative reduction in storage charges.

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Chris Robson

Chris Robson

Managing Director
Insight

Saying Goodbye to Category Tower 8: A Fond Farewell to Akeso’s Successful Service Delivery

“On 28th April 2023 Akeso will be bidding a very fond farewell to our Category Tower 8 team as the service that Akeso has successfully delivered for almost 5 years transfers to NHS Supply Chain on 1st May. Akeso secured the contract for Category Tower 8 in 2018 to deliver the category management, procurement and sourcing service to NHS Supply Chain for Diagnostic, Pathology & Therapy Technologies and Services.

The decision by NHSE and NHS Supply Chain to bring the category management and procurement of all clinical products and service back in-house was made in 2022 in recognition of the increasingly challenging economic environment within which the service needs to operate.

Whilst we are sad to see service leave us, we have been reflecting on the journey we have been on and feel hugely proud and honoured to have had the opportunity to develop and lead the CT8 Team who have delivered so much. We have delivered over £100m in savings to the NHS, as well as exceeding all other metrics and targets. We have led the way in the development of category and sourcing strategies for some of the more complex areas of sourcing in the NHS, whilst managing the COVID-19 response for our categories including the initial sourcing of swabs for COVID-19 testing and developing the national supply resilience strategy for continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).

As we look forward, we are confident we will be able to use the unique and valuable experience, knowledge and skills we have gained in delivering the service to NHS Supply Chain to support our other clients; our category and sourcing approach has become more refined and flexible to complex sourcing projects, our analytics capability and toolkits have developed increasingly sophisticated approaches to support demand forecasting and spend analysis and our wide networks within the NHS and the markets that serve the NHS have become broader and deeper.

We wish our staff all the very best in their new organisation, NHS Supply Chain are lucky to have you, and we are confident that the talent, experience and knowledge that NHS Supply Chain gains from all of the Category Towers that are transitioning will ensure it’s future success in delivering value for the NHS.”

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Chris Robson

Chris Robson

Managing Director
Case studies – newspapers
Case Study

NHSE South-West Community Diagnostic Hubs

Akeso supported NHSE SW to design and procure a regional CDC service for the South West., built in partnership with the independent sector. Key aspects of our support spanned Commercial Model & Business Case development as well as the full end-to-end procurement delivery to secure the provider partner

INSIGHT

Driven by the recommendations of Professor Sir Mike Richards’ report, Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal, NHS England South-West (NHSE SW) engaged Akeso as an operational delivery partner to support in the regional roll-out of Community Diagnostic Centres, in partnership with the Independent Sector. The programme aimed to rapidly expand capacity and transform diagnostic provision for the local populations across the seven ICS systems, whilst maintaining ownership of the service.

ACTION

Through our deep understanding of the community diagnostic landscape and procurement expertise, our delivery team supported NHSE SW in the following:

Commercial Model: Akeso developed critical CDC-related business, organisational and operational requirement solutions from the perspective of an “intelligent customer” in order to secure best value-for-money. These included development of optimal clinical service model, integrated workforce strategy, approach to integration of diagnostic technology and digital connectivity with local healthcare providers and an appropriate financial model

Procurement Preparations & Delivery: Akeso managed the end-to-end procurement strategy including facilitation of supply market engagement, development of service specification defining key requirements and mapping CDC processes based on programme vision and objectives, ICS demographic and patient needs and delivered a full and compliant procurement tender and contract award process.

RESULTS

Akeso successfully developed the Commercial Model and procured the Independent Sector provider to form the foundations for joint service delivery with NHS across a ten-year fixed CDC site contract and three-year mobile CDC site contract, with a total worth of £250 million.

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Chris Robson

Chris Robson

Managing Director
Case Study

Contracting for Sample Processing in Health Research

Akeso provided procurement and contracting services to support the delivery of core services for this newly established Scientific Research Charity

INSIGHT

Our Future Health, a charity establishing the UK’s largest ever health research programme, designed to enable the discovery of more effective approaches to prevention, detection and treatment of diseases.

The aim of the programme is to recruit 5 million adult volunteers that will provide information about their health, lifestyles and a sample of blood for genotyping and analysis.
Our Future Health required the procurement of services for blood sample processing, Genotype assay design, manufacture, genotyping services and sample storage.

ACTION

Our Future Health were required to operate under PCR15 to procure and contract and without any in-house procurement expertise, the organisation needed to navigate all elements of this complex procurement including development of specifications and evaluation criteria and managing the tender process through to contract.

In addition, the volumes and timescales were still being developed and a solution was needed that could flexibly ramp up to meet the evolving needs of the programme but also needed to start within 8 months.

It was also recognised that some elements of the requirement were very specialist with limited providers. The client needed a solution that would provide the full service but allow for effective competition for all elements.

Akeso&Co supported Our Future Health by coordinating its significant scientific expertise with a PCR2015 compliant foundation in order to deliver this large and complex procurement.

RESULTS

Our Future Health now has the infrastructure in place to be able to process and genotype 5 million samples from the UK population to deliver the largest research programme of its kind. A key objective was to avoid any legal challenge to the process, meet the ambitious timescale whilst ensuring SME participation.

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Chris Robson

Chris Robson

Managing Director
Case Study

Pro-bono COVID-19 Grant Application Support to Homerton Healthcare Hospital Foundation Trust as the Lead Charity for North East London ICS

Summary:

We supported Homerton Healthcare Hospital Foundation Trust pro-bono to secure over £950k funding across three Trust charities in the North East London ICS, working in community partnerships to bring measurable health outcomes to communities negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The Challenge:

In 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Captain Tom Moore and many others raised £150m for NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) in response to their COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. This funding was split into various programmes, namely the Stage 2 Community Partnership Grant, where the funds are distributed to Integrated Care Systems (ICS) across the country.

We were engaged by Homerton Healthcare Hospital Foundation Trust (HUHFT) as a lead charity to support the North-East London (NEL) ICS, providing a governance and project management structure throughout the application process.

Some of the key challenges identified included:

  • Ensuring equal management of the funds across the 3 Trust charities applying under NEL ICS
  • Managing different processes across the ICS
  • Responding to changing requirements for proposals and applications due to the novel nature of this Grant
  • Demonstrating each charity’s programmes met the community partnership guidelines

Solution:

In response to the challenges identified at the beginning of the project, our first step was to set up weekly governance calls with representatives from all Trust charities within the NEL ICS. We used these meetings to agree and document terms of references for the group, how the money would be managed, and track each organisation’s progress.

Following this, we segmented both the proposal and application template from NHSCT into a clear and concise structure which could be used across the organisations applying within NEL.

We ensured each charity’s application clearly demonstrated the following:

  • Resulted in a measurable improvement in health outcomes for communities adversely affected by COVID-19
  • Involved a partnership with community organisations
  • Lead to a direct, positive impact on the NHS whilst responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Results:

The full amount of over £950k (inclusive of an operational grant) was successfully awarded and shared equally across all 3 Trust charities.

Our governance meetings were particularly useful to bring all organisations together and share knowledge from their own applications, capturing lessons learnt for future Grants. They provided a platform for colleagues who carried out similar work to come together when they otherwise do not have many opportunities to.

Next Steps:

As the programmes go live, we will continue to provide governance and structure across the ICS, ensuring all organisations track the progress of their programmes in a standardised format. Interim reports are required to demonstrate the appropriate use of the funds in order to unlock future allocations of the Grant funds. As we did for the application process, we will provide a structure to the reports and build processes to easily demonstrate the organisation’s goals have been met to date.

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Chris Robson

Chris Robson

Managing Director
Covid-19 tests – logistics management for a global pharmaceutical company
Case Study

Logistics Management for a Global Pharmaceutical Company

Akeso & Co have supported Tanner Pharma Group UK’s (TPGUK) successful delivery of over 300m units of lateral flow devices (LFDs) to the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) since October 2021.

Insight

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic was an unprecedented global crisis that challenged the limits of Healthcare systems around the world. A nation’s testing ability represented the most effective way to monitor and limit the spread of COVID-19 whilst also navigating the imminent threat of a nationwide lockdown. Throughout the pandemic, TPGUK have been a key supplier of self-test LFDs to the U.K. Government via the UKHSA.

TPGUK were contracted by the UKHSA in October 2021 to supply LFDs through an intricate and complex global supply chain. Combined with the emergence of the Omicron variant and in the lead up to winter 2021, the project rapidly escalated in scale and scope. We, as supply chain and procurement experts, were contracted to support and oversee all elements of the logistics and delivery process.

Some of the key challenges identified included:

  • Planning the delivery schedule based on manufacturing capacity in China;
  • Identifying and managing the flight booking process;
  • Responding to the rapid escalation of demand for LFDs because of the Omicron variant and winter pressures; and
  • Monitoring the overall logistics schedule.

Action

Our first priority was to understand manufacturing capacity which would ultimately dictate the delivery schedule. We had numerous meetings with manufacturing partners in China to review their production capacity and plan the downstream deliveries accordingly. Additionally, we developed a flight tracker to balance flights booked against production capacity. In this way, we ensured cost effective utilisation of flights, while also maximising the capacity to inbound LFDs into the U.K. at a time of increased demand.

Initial support regarding logistics tracking and planning progressed to overall management and integration with flight planning elements. We led stakeholder engagement and management through the daily operations review calls schedule with Kuehne and Nagel (TPGUK’s logistics sub-contractor) and twice weekly contract progress report updates to UKHSA.

Results

We were able to support the process and delivery of over 300m LFDs to the UKHSA when there was greatest need for them. This involved the operation of over 150 flights via 27 different routes involving 13 Chinese and 10 U.K airports over four months.

We ensured that the pace of project delivery matched that of the project escalation, while reacting to numerous challenges that threatened to delay or derail the rate of delivery. The efficiency improvements from the development flight tracker meant that we were able to leverage our expertise more effectively. This helped to mitigate risk, minimise financial waste and ensure delivery KPIs were met.

Akeso – Tanner Pharma – Case Study Results

In February 2022, UKHSA announced that TPGUK would continue to supply LFDs as the COVID-19 Pandemic progresses toward endemic status. Having recognised and implemented several improved ways of working, we have been able to further support TPGUK in their most recent purchase order delivery while achieving some key savings. With logistic operations simplification and improved planning, we delivered a relative reduction of 28% in flight costs, a 33% damage rate reduction and a 40% relative reduction in storage charges.

Akeso – Tanner Pharma – Case Study Quote

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Martin Shiderov

Martin Shiderov

Associate Director
Case studies – newspapers
Case Study

Development of Business Cases for Scan4Safety Demonstrator Sites

In 2014, the Department of Health (DH) commenced an ambitious program, Scan4Safety, to transform the way that the NHS manages the numerous interventions that take place in NHS Providers at all points of care delivery everyday, both internally and externally with suppliers. The DH invited outline business case applications from NHS Provider Trusts interested in being one of six NHS demonstrator sites, who would be awarded investment of up to £2m to act as early adopters and communicate the benefits of Scan4Safety.
Working with a large top-tier Consultancy, we were engaged as a subject matter expert to deliver four of the final 12 Outline Business Cases, leveraging our direct experience of delivering transformational projects in the NHS involving technologies and solutions covered by Scan4Safety. We worked with a number of leading academic NHS Trusts around their process maturity and eProcurement capabilities. Our directors have presented on the topic at a number of events in the UK and the US, on behalf of GS1 and other organisations.

INSIGHT

The benefits of Scan4Safety adoption are significant: improved transactional efficiency, improved traceability and risk reduction, inventory and wastage reduction, released clinical time to patient care – all of which lead to improved patient outcomes and safety.
We have extensive experience of Scan4Safety relevant technologies including a number of Use and Enabler cases. We brought a number of methodologies and tools, including Hospital Supply Chain Maturity Framework and Diagnostics Tools, Financial Modelling and Market Studies of Healthcare Inventory Management and Procure-to-Pay systems.

ACTION

We analysed submissions from applicant NHS Providers. We engaged key stakeholders in organisations at all levels up to an including Executive, to validate the ambition levels within each of the four Trusts.
We developed a comprehensive business case framework for the final applications, based on the HM Treasury Blue Book methodology. We worked closely with applicant Trusts to complete the comprehensive business cases This included engagement with external suppliers, modelling of solution options as well as development and costing of implementation plans to take forward if successful.
We then developed four final recommendations and business case applications for DH Board approval.

RESULTS

Three of the four applications validated by us were successful in securing investment of up to £2m, as part of the six NHS providers selected as Scan4Safety demonstrator sites.

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Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall

Associate Director
Insight

Preparing for the challenges of tomorrow with robust continuity planning

Risk management processes play a key role in building the resilience a business needs to operate smoothly during disruption. This is particularly the case in pharmaceutical and MedTech businesses, in which supply chains are often complex and services are multi-layered.

Disruption can come in many forms, including challenges caused by the rapid growth to regulatory changes and rare but destabilising events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. A vigorous business continuity plan (BCP) enables businesses to weather these storms. They have also become a requirement in many commercial tendering processes, which puts companies that do not have one at a competitive disadvantage.

Here we explore how to successfully identify risks and prepare to mitigate them with a robust BCP.

Developing a business continuity plan

Although different parts of an organisation may understand the risks specific to their function, a holistic view of risk across a business is often lacking. Robust organisation-level BCPs will ensure there are structures in place to keep core services running in times of uncertainty and constraint.

The pharmaceutical sector is diverse and each BCP needs to be tailored to each organisation’s specific situation, but there are three overarching steps we would recommend you take when devising one:

  1. Carry out an enterprise-wide risk assessment process to identify, assess and prioritise key risks – to make the most of this exercise, you will want to engage with a broad group of stakeholders, from board level to teams on the ground, ensuring you cover a range of perspectives. This will involve interviews and workshops designed to identify and prioritise risks, pinpoint what risk management initiatives are already in place and establish who, if anyone, is responsible for managing each scenario. This process is likely to reveal risks that may not have been considered previously, which makes this part of the process so crucial.
  2. Examine if and how the risks that have been identified could impact the business and which functions need to be incorporated into business continuity planning – to understand the key priorities, we use our risk assessment matrix, which you can see below. This matrix helps create a risk register by plotting the likelihood of an event occurring against the extent of its impact on revenue and reputation.Akeso risk matrixAkeso risk matrix description
  3. Develop a contingency plan that responds to the information that has been gathered – it will set out the BCP structure and the core roles and responsibilities within it. This plan will also establish recovery strategies that will minimise the impact of any disruption and detail how they should be implemented.

This thorough three-step process will lead to a comprehensive plan that strengthens a business’s ability to respond effectively to change and disruption, as well as embrace the opportunities that often come with it.

A living document

When the facts change, plans need to change with them. The development of a BCP described above is not a one-off event, it is the start of an ongoing process.

From the beginning it should be established that roles and responsibilities outlined are continuous, and the risks posed to the organisation will be kept under regular review. In this way the BCP document can be amended and refined to reflect evolving circumstances.

Those responsible for certain risks can then playback renewed strategies with the business continuity management team, to meticulously test their logic and probable effectiveness.

Our planning in action

Akeso & Co put these principles into play when we developed a business continuity plan for a leading mid-sized pharma company with a range of licensed therapeutics.

As a growing business with a complex supply chain, the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need to review and update its continuity plans, including assessing the vital third parties it works with.

A new plan then had to be developed that ensures the organisation and its network of manufacturing and distribution partners is able to respond quickly to disruption in the future. Together with the Chief Operating Officer and a senior team, we followed our three-step approach to do this.

Alongside common risks such as IT failure and disaster, we identified specific issues unique to their business model. For example, certain raw materials where supply could become constrained, and weaknesses in distribution channels such as the Suez Canal. We also located potential single points of failure, where one employee had sole responsibility for a business-critical relationship.

The BCP we developed has provided the business with a flexible framework that will enable the senior leadership team to overcome disruptions to critical business functions. They also now have visibility of the key risks facing the business, supported by effective controls and a process to monitor and manage changes to their risk profile.

Building this kind of agility into a pharma or MedTech organisation enables it to adapt to change and provide a continuous service to its clients. To discuss how Akeso & Co can strengthen your business’s ability to thrive during uncertainty, get in touch.

Insight

Reshaping long neglected sterilisation services to meet the increased demands of a post-Covid world

As recent headlines have highlighted, the NHS backlog in routine operations and procedures has reached worrying heights during the pandemic. Data from NHS England shows that currently more than 5 million people in England are waiting for hospital treatment, with 3.63 million fewer elective surgeries carried out between April 2020 and May 2021. Meeting this backlog of care is going to be one of the key challenges for Trusts across the country over the coming months.

To achieve this, every element of a Trust’s service needs to be operating as effectively and efficiently as possible. One critical area that is often overlooked is decontamination and sterilisation services. Without effective surgical instrument sterilisation, even basic procedures cannot be carried out.

This insights article looks at some of the problems Trusts face when it comes to providing sterile services and how they can be addressed within integrated care systems (ICS) in a post-COVID world.

The current SSD landscape

There are more than 3,000 NHS hospital theatres across England, carrying out 10 million theatre operations each year, all of which are supported by sterile service departments at an estimated annual running cost of more than £200m.

Typically, sterile services are provided on-site on a Trust-by-Trust basis and are co-located adjacent to Theatres. The size and scope of this service provision is contingent upon both volume and type of a Trust’s elective caseload. The graphic below shows how this £200m spend breaks down by region and ICS, with percentages representing the proportion spent by each ICS within a region.

CE Akeso sterilisation graphs ics annual spend on sterile services across england by region
Figure 1 – ICS annual spend on sterile services across England by region

Disparities across NHS Trusts’ Sterile Services

Given the scale of these services, some variation in service performance and delivery is expected. However, digging deeper into NHS Digital data, Akeso & Co found significant disparities across Trusts that need to be addressed.

In fact, the total annual spend on sterile services per ICS, varies extensively in relation to the number of theatres in a Trust and the floorspace their sterile service department takes up. These variations are outlined in the graphic below which plots ICS spending driven by surgical activity and case type, against number of theatres and SSD floorspace.

CE Akeso sterilisation graphs unwarranted variation in sterile services performance in england
Figure 2 – Unwarranted variation in sterile services performance in England, shown by the total annual spend of STPs/ICSs compared to the number of theatres and SSD floorspace (sqm)

There is significant variation in spend on sterile services by ICS and Trusts when accounting for a hospital’s number of theatres, volume and scope of surgical activity, and unit size. One major cause of this unwarranted variation, highlighted above, is the varying age and condition of sterilisation equipment and assets.

Because the service is capital intensive, with high-value complex assets and costly support facilities, this commonly results in the assets operating beyond their lifespan. Inevitably, this leads to high levels of breakdown, maintenance costs and downtime which impacts a theatre’s ability to operate. In a capital-limited environment, most Trusts do not have the funds to upgrade their sterilisation assets to a standard which would be optimal and compliant.

However, where there is variation in service performance and efficiency, and an increasing backlog of demand, there are clear opportunities for Trusts to improve how they run these services. Trusts should welcome the challenge of further ICS integration as a means of combatting these issues. This will also enable them to redefine operational processes within the entire peri-operative value chain, embrace novel technologies and explore a variety of commercial models.

Addressing the challenges

How Trusts transform sterilisation services to reduce inefficiencies and unwarranted variation will depend on a number of determining factors specific to each Trust.  Addressing each one will enable Trusts to create efficient sterile services that allow theatres to function as effectively as possible, as they tackle the backlog of cases caused by Covid-19. Moreover, in reshaping the provision of sterile services, Trusts also have the opportunity to better manage their equipment and explore how they can optimise their floorspace, not least in the context of required theatre expansion programmes, where floorspace is at a premium.

We have identified several factors that will influence a Trust’s decisions, including:

  • Hospital site type, number of sites and location
  • Level of collaboration within an ICS / STP
  • Theatre case volume and type
  • State of assets and equipment
  • Financial position and capital availability

These all need to be taken into account when considering how to best prepare a Trust for the demands of a post-pandemic world.

To achieve this there are three steps we would recommend taking:

1.Understand the Trust’s requirements and activity

Theatre case volume, case type and surgical preference all impact decontamination activity. For example, orthopaedic surgeries require the greatest volume of associated surgical equipment and, in turn, sterilisation. Moreover, in larger Trusts, having a detailed understanding of the relationship between multi-site and multi-organisation environments is crucial. Only once the demand on sterile services has been accurately understood, can Trusts begin planning their bespoke sterilisation improvement strategies.

2. Tackle mismatches between theatre activity and decontamination volume

Through improved operational planning, Trusts will be able to manage surgical instrumentation to better meet peak demand and rapid turnarounds when necessary. Currently, the level of sterilisation activity does not always align with the volume of theatre cases, as illustrated in Figure 3 below.

Typically, cases and elective surgeries run throughout the working day, with sterile services running alongside them, often at max capacity. Trusts should look to adopt, where possible, a hybrid working model, whereby sterile service activity is better managed to align with demand and activity. This hybrid model would see the core volume of activity processed outside of the traditional elective window (also shown in Figure 3). This will improve their ability to respond to ad-hoc surgical demand and reduce pressure on already burdened capital assets, enabling crucial machine downtime.

CE Akeso sterilisation graphs misalignment in theatre cases and sterilisation activity
Figure 3 – Misalignment in theatre cases and sterilisation activity

3. Adopt technological capabilities to maximise current operations

Alongside better planning, advances in technology can help ensure the instrument peri-operative value chain is as efficient and effective as possible. Track and trace technologies, such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), offer full visibility over surgical instrumentation from surgical use to decontamination and other movements. This enables workflow optimisation and full utilisation of the existing asset base. Work conducted by Akeso & Co discovered that a third of one leading Trust’s surgical instrumentation had not been used for three years, with instrument dormancy going as far back as 2004.

In situations like this, RFID can pinpoint where medical instruments are dormant. Although there are valid clinical reasons for not using certain instruments, a clearer oversight of assets gives Trusts the option to generate value by disposing of unnecessary equipment and freeing up hospital floorspace.

4. Explore a variety of commercial models

There are a number of different commercial models which Trusts should consider, such as joint ventures and managed services that can reduce the significant capital investments required. The graph below shows the range of commercial models currently available, and the different value propositions they offer depending on a Trust’s objectives.

CE Akeso sterilisation graphs the range of commercial models available
Figure 4 – The range of commercial models available, including the level of service each offers and the advantages of a managed equipment service (MES)

Each commercial model comes with various advantages and opportunities. Depending on the selected model, Trusts have the possibility of further integration within the ICS to share capital and the option of taking sterilisation services off site if appropriate. Further to this, there is the opportunity to create revenue by acting as a lead partner in a commercial SSD network and offering services to the private sector.

Choosing the right model

There are benefits and risks to every solution and weighing up a Trust’s specific needs is an important part of the process when deciding which is the right route to take. We have worked with several Trusts over the years to identify the best direction for their SSD and build a business case to support this.

In transforming sterile services departments, Trusts will put themselves in a stronger position to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. Additionally, this will also increase theatre efficiency, improve infection control measures, generate space savings that enable theatre expansion programmes and potentially create much-needed income.

To discuss how Akeso & Co can help sterile service departments perform their critical role more effectively, get in touch.

Scan4Saftey Programme
Case Study

Implementation of a Trust-wide Inventory Management System and Scan4Saftey programme

Akeso & Co supported Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust (HUHFT) in the design and implementation of a Scan4Safety Programme and Inventory Management System (IMS). Captured in a detailed business case, the initiative is set to drive significant operational efficiencies and improvements to patient safety and care.

Akeso - Homerton Case Study - Healthcare Consultancy

Challenge

Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust (HUHFT) is a major NHS provider of acute care in the London Borough of Hackney. With services spanning 75 locations across East London, including approximately 450 beds, 11 wards, three day-surgery theatres and six main operating theatres, HUHFT has a complex set of services and supporting supply chain.

Following a thorough opportunity assessment, a number of challenges were identified with regards to the current operations, accumulating in clinical time wasted, health and safety risks, as well as opportunities for cost improvements.

Some of the key challenges identified include:

  • Inefficient and inconsistent supply chain processes across wards and departments
  • Lack of visibility and control of inventory levels due to limited reporting capabilities
  • Segmented spending on products and consumables across wards and departments
  • Limited traceability of theatre implants through the supply chain to procedure due to manual processes
  • Strained working relationships between clinical and material management staff

Solution

To address the challenges identified, the project recommended HUHFT would benefit significantly from a Trust-wide IMS to improve inventory management and achieve patient-level costing. We supported HUHFT through a three-phased approach from business case development through to successful implementation.

Phase 1) Secure investment through a robust business case

With the support of key HUHFT clinical and operational stakeholders, we developed a compelling business case and secured the required backing to proceed to procurement. Through a detailed appraisal of the potential qualitative and quantitative benefits and risks, it was identified that implementation of a trust-wide IMS could deliver £1.4m in benefits over the next five years, from an initial £469k one-time investment.

Phase 2) Source and partner with the optimal provider

Following a route to market assessment, we facilitated a phased procurement process through a formalised ‘mini-competition’ to assist the Trust in their rigorous selection of a suitable IMS provider. Through taking this approach, we were able to secure an optimal solution balancing system capability and total five-year cost.

Phase 3) Implementation through rigorous PMO and change management

We project managed the implementation of the new IMS and change management of associated processes encompassed within the Scan4Safety programme, reporting to the patient safety board. From the outset, programme governance was implemented to ensure the new system and its related benefits were achievable and sustainable.  This involved the recruitment and setup of a programme board of Trust directors, and the chairing of regular meetings and presenting programme updates at Trust-wide Scan4Safety engagement sessions.

Results

The full benefits of the IMS solution will be seen during the next five years but it is already delivering significant savings and process improvements.

The one-time investments equating to £469,000 and subsequent improved processes is expected to generate £1.4m in cost savings, including:

Akeso - Homerton Case Study - Results

In addition to the projected quantitative benefits, implementation of a Trust-wide IMS is also expected to deliver number of qualitative benefits, including:

  • A reduction in the likelihood of ‘never events’ thanks to the patient level costing functionality which improves the traceability of implants, surgical instruments and medical equipment.
  • The release of up to six clinical WTEs, allowing them to re-focus on patient facing activities.
  • Automated processes, such as Barcode-driven ordering, that drive efficiencies in areas including procurement and recall.
  • Additional management information insights that enabled further efficiencies.
  • Increased clinical confidence in supply chain processes.
  • Compliance with GS1 and Scan4Safety.

What is next for HUHFT?

Following the success of the IMS and Scan4Safety pilot programme, HUHFT will continue to drive adoption of Scan4Safety to extended use cases, including potentially Blood Transfusion Scanning, Pathology samples, eMedicine, and many more.

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A door to redesigning a one of a kind NHS shared service facility
Case Study

Redesigning a one-of-a-kind NHS shared service facility

We’ve helped shape the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP)’s long-term use and vision of a one-of-a-kind NHS physical shared service facility.

NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership – Potential

Challenge

In 2018, Welsh Government acquired a 275,000 sq.ft. warehouse in Newport to store core medical supplies as part of the EU Exit preparations. Longer term, the Welsh Government intended that the warehouse would be a strategic investment for Wales. NWSSP were responsible for defining the future shared service opportunity and asked us to develop a strategic outline case, demonstrating that the facility could generate broad benefit to Wales and be financially sustainable in the future.

NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership – Opportunities

Solution

We understood the importance of maximising the warehouse’s potential to contribute towards NHS Wales and broader government strategic priorities. We broke the project into four phases to determine how best to respond to the opportunity.

The first was to engage with key stakeholders to identify how everyone might benefit from the warehouse. The second was to evaluate service options that could deliver clinical, social, operational, and financial benefits for the Welsh Healthcare system. The third was to outline how the warehouse space could be best configured to support different functions and balance a range of benefit opportunities. And the final phase was to draft the strategic outline case and recommend the preferred future option for the Welsh government’s approval.

NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership – ROI

Results

The NWSSP Executive approved the preferred option and ring-fenced ongoing funding, with the adopted approach estimated to generate over £8m in benefits over the next 10 years. The recommended configuration will serve as a cornerstone for key Welsh strategies including the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, Taking Wales Forwards and A Healthier Wales. It also provides an opportunity to fast track and accommodate initiatives already underway, including the Transforming Access to Medicines Programme.

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Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall

Associate Director
Case studies – newspapers
Case Study

Delivering Procurement and Supply Chain Value from Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, is the largest of the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) defined by NHS England, covering a group of 12 NHS providers (acute, mental health and community), with a non-pay spend of over £2bn per annum, covering a population of 3m and 480 primary care practices. As part of the Greater Manchester devolution agenda, we were engaged to identify and validate in detail the incremental benefits that could result from formalisation of the existing collaborative model and from leveraging the transformational changes from the implementation of the Greater Manchester STP. The project scope included Sourcing and Procurement and Supply Chain of Goods and Services and Pharmacy.

Insight

Whilst the core aim of “ensuring the availability of Goods and Services required to deliver effective and efficient Patient Care to the regions population” will be common to all Healthcare providers in a region, the distribution of this activity and the way in which it is delivered can be very different for each provider. Whilst the benefits of regional working are compelling (greater scale, more cost efficient delivery, sharing of best practice and standardisation, pool investment in technology), understanding each provider’s strategy, their relative areas of focus, priorities, strengths and Procurement capabilities is a crucial first step in the collaborative journey. Our consultants brought a number of methodologies, tools and experiences that have been developed and refined in a Healthcare context, including Capability Assessment and Organisational Diagnostics Tools, a proven Procurement Transformation approach that addresses all areas of capability (People & Organisation, Process and Systems) and Category Intelligence (Client experience, Market Studies etc.).

Action

Our consultants conducted a detailed analysis of resources and costs, capabilities, governance, process maturity and technology to develop a detailed as-is view of the current Procurement Operating Model across providers in the region, identifying areas of commonality and difference. We conducted a total 3rd-party spend analysis with opportunity assessment, analysing four key areas in depth, that would most benefit from a regional approach across Clinical and Non-clinical spend on Goods and Services and Pharmacy. We evaluated a range of options to maximise the return on the collaboration and developed and socialised a Board-level paper which set out the options we had evaluated with a recommendation, underpinned by a HM Treasury 5-case business model.

Results

We developed a fully costed recommendation that reflected the optimal balance between commercial ambition and cost, operational capability and efficiency, and overarching provider strategies. A number of key initiatives from overarching strategy have been taken forward on an advanced basis. We continue to play a role in the delivery of these projects.

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Chris Robson

Chris Robson

Managing Director
Supply chain value assessments
Case Study

Supply Chain Value Assessments for two Private Hospital Providers

We have been engaged separately by two leading Private Hospital Groups who were keen to explore the potential value of taking a more integrated approach to the supply chains serving their networks of Healthcare facilities. The two projects were delivered independently and confidentially.

Insight

Like public sector Hospitals, private operators have to deal with the receipt, handling and onward distribution of a diverse range of product supplies and equipment. Unlike their public sector counterparts (who until very recently were focussed on Hospital operations within a city or a very concentrated area), private sector Hospital providers have been grappling with the challenge of how to secure supply chain network efficiencies over a wide geographic area for some time. This is compounded by the faster pace of change to their businesses and the need to turn a profit.
Our consultants brought extensive Healthcare and cross-sector experience to these projects including insights on leading supply chain and inventory management practices and established methodologies including a Hospital Supply Chain Maturity Framework, Cost-to-Serve models and Market Intelligence on leading sector Logistics and Solution providers.

Action

We confirmed the scope of supply chain relevant activities, gathered and analysed spend, contract and activity data from across the organisation to built a detailed ‘cost-to-serve’ model for the entire Hospital provider network. We benchmarked the activity and practices to public sector and cross industry (Fast-moving consumer goods, Retail and Automotive) comparators. We engaged with clinical and operational stakeholders to understand the current situation, key challenges and requirements.
We modelled a range of value enhancing supply chain options (using segmented flow models) and jointly, alongside key stakeholders, developed a recommended supply model which reduced costs and improved service levels.
We then developed a final recommendation that achieved the best balance of client and stakeholder requirements, including a full detail business and investment case to take forward on subsequent phases.
We developed an implementation roadmap with interdependencies and priorities clearly specified and mapped. This included a central control capability established to enable benefits to be sustained and tracked over the longer term.

Results

We identified, quantified and developed a series of initiatives that would yield c. 30% to 40% in one-time inventory benefits and 25-35% savings in recurrent supply chain costs, thus reducing average cost-to-serve.

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Scott Healy

Scott Healy

Director
Guys and St Thomas Hospital
Case Study

Facilities Management Cost Reduction

Guy’s & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT) comprises two of London’s best known teaching hospitals, St Thomas’ Hospital and Guy’s Hospital, providing a full range of hospital services to the local community and specialist services nationally. GSTT is one of the largest Trusts in the UK with a turnover of almost £1.5bn and 15k staff, treating over 2.4m patients per year, including 88k inpatients,103k day cases, 1.2m outpatients and 800k patients in community services.
GSTT operates a wholly owned subsidiary, Essentia, which provides Facilities Management (FM) for GSTT. Essentia was challenged to deliver cost savings, improve service quality and manage an aging asset base to maintain uptime through a blend of in-house and externally contracted services. Akeso&Co were engaged by Essentia to complete a total cost review of the Hard Facilities Management service (Engineering and Building Maintenance) to identify near term and long-term cost reduction and operational efficiency opportunities in 3rd party spend and the internal service.

Insight

Essentia was challenged to deliver cost savings in addition to assuring service quality and maintaining an aging and diverse asset base, with very limited funds for investment. We brought a number of methodologies, tools and experiences to support the client through each stage of the project including a proven Opportunity Assessment approach, Capability Development (People & Organisation, Process and Systems) and Hard Facilities Management-relevant Category and Market Intelligence.

Action

In Phase 1, our consultants led the process to identify the value through benchmarking GSTT to peer Trusts in terms of scale/ size and location using latest Estates Return data from NHS Digital. We completed in depth reviews and analysis for a number of key product and service contracts with the client and incumbent providers to evaluate fulfilment of requirements and to develop strategies to improve performance and leverage benefits where suppliers were failing to meet performance standards. We then prepared a Board level recommendation for a Programme Delivery setting out a range of tactical and strategic options.

In Phase 2, we designed and led a joint Consultant:Client delivery program to implement the recommendations. We developed and ran multiple Tenders, which included soft supplier market engagement, the development of output based specifications and the design of contract models that would permit the involvement of local SME providers. We finally designed and costed a detailed process improvement plan to transform the end-to-end Hard FM Callout process handling 50k callouts per year.

Results

We established and mobilised a structured Trust-wide improvement programme which delivered savings and improvements across all areas of Engineering and Building Maintenance to improve customer service and regulatory compliance and reduce cost to serve.

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Scott Healy

Scott Healy

Director
Optimisation of diagnostic specimen collection network
Case Study

Optimisation of Diagnostic Specimen Collection Network

NHS Pathology Laboratories in England process nearly 800m blood specimens per year. Of these, c. 50m tests (6%) originate from the 7,800 GP practices (av. 6,440 tests per GP practice) the others originate from Hospital Provider network and other sources.

We were engaged by a number of Pathology Service Providers, individual providers and regional collaborations, (the largest handling up to 1.75m samples from almost 400 GP practices and community locations operating Phlebotomy services) to assess, design and implement efficiency improvements to the Community Specimen Collection Network.

Insight

Like any network, the Specimen Collection Network is dynamic and evolves over time. It quickly begins to change as individual GP practices and community care providers makes changes to their practice locations, opening hours and service locations and new providers enter the market providing Phlebotomy services.

We used a number of Network Modelling methodologies and tools, combined with our sector experience, to understand the current network and design a solution which best met the customer and Laboratory requirements (better service, reduced collection cost per reported test result, etc.).

Action

Our consultants analysed the volumetric, activity and financial data from across the network to baseline costs. We engaged key stakeholders in the Pathology Laboratory and sample of key GP and community customers to understand the current situation, key challenges and customer requirements.

We led the engagement with local and national Transport and Technology providers to identify relevant solution options. We modelled a range of solution options and developed a recommendation which best met the customer requirements. We led the implementation of our recommendations which included the development of specifications, competitive tenders and the implementation of change management providing the client with a toolset to track benefits and monitor volumetric going forward.

Results

We delivered savings ranging from 9% to 17.5% (reduced collection cost per reported test result, reduced carbon footprint) through the consolidation and redesign of collection routes and times whilst keeping within the critical four hour collection-to-test window. We improved the customer service and provided enhanced sample traceability (sample collection to test) and further ensured that the efficiencies are sustainable and would enable the Pathology provider to keep apace with future developments of the network.

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Martin Shiderov

Martin Shiderov

Associate Director