2018 Operating Theatres Project – Results published. Read our news piece for the highlights.

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The Network welcomes the publication of the 2018 Operating Theatres project report and toolkit, presenting the results of this year’s benchmarking project.

The Operating Theatres project covers the sixteen largest surgical specialties. The report focuses on the benchmarking results for the top eight specialties and all sixteen are available within the online toolkit, which can be accessed via the Network members’ area. A separate good practice compendium will also be made available to Network members this month.

62 organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland participated in the 2018 project, submitting data for a total of 69 hospital sites.

Highlights include:

Whilst the growing and ageing population in England continues to increase overall demand for NHS services, the volume of planned care activity undertaken fell slightly in 2017/18 (elective admissions down 2%).

Elective care capacity in the system is under pressure due to the competing need for resources to support growing demand for emergency care. These pressures are evident both in the challenge many Trusts are experiencing in meeting the A&E four hour wait target (Trusts are reporting that, on average, 22% of patients are waiting 4 hours or more, NHSBN Emergency Care 2018 benchmarking project), and in increasing waiting times for elective care. The percentage of patients waiting over 18 weeks (RTT) was 13% in March 2018, the highest level since January 2009. This project finds that 10% of operation cancellations are due to bed shortages.

Media attention has focused on A&E performance and the impact on patient flow through hospitals following the reduction in social care budgets. However, there has been an increasing focus from central NHS bodies on clinical variation, productivity and efficiency in elective care with initiatives such as the Model Hospital. The NHS Benchmarking Network’s Operating Theatres project complements the Model Hospital and GIRFT workstreams with a holistic view of Theatre provision covering infrastructure, capacity, activity, theatre utilisation, quality, finance and workforce. The Network project gives Trusts the opportunity to submit data at a hospital level, so that performance can be compared between different sites within the Trust’s portfolio.

Further information

All project outputs for 2018, together with project outputs from earlier years, are available via the members’ area of the Network’s website. Presentations from the Network’s Theatres conferences can also be found online.

If you have any questions or comments about the project, please contact Jessica Grantham, to request access to the members’ area, or find out more about Network membership, please contact enquiries@nhsbenchmarking.nhs.uk.