Last updated: 12.06.08

Virtual College's Lean Healthcare Academy, lands a major industry-related accolade

The Ilkley-based Lean Healthcare Academy, which offers a vehicle that accelerates the adoption of Lean working practices as a foundation stone for sustainable service transformation across the healthcare sector, has landed a major industry-related accolade.

The academy won the "Partnership with the NHS" award at the Medilink Yorkshire and Humber Innovation Day and Healthcare Business Awards, held at The Royal Armouries, Leeds. (Thus, June 5) Medilink is a membership-based professional association that serves healthcare technology organisations, hospitals and universities within the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The Lean Healthcare Academy now goes through to the national finals of the Medilink UK Business Awards. Established in 2006 with founding partner Airedale NHS Trust, the Lean Healthcare Academy was rewarded for its flagship work with its 17-strong network of NHS member trusts across the north, who have access to a range of services that include staff training, development and implementation support, and flexible online e-learning programmes.

To date, the academy has worked on over 30 projects directly related to patient care and safety or cost reduction within the NHS. Benefits have included better patient access to services, 18 Week compliance, Productive Ward support and safer administration systems. In addition, improvements to more than a dozen patient pathways have been identified and implemented. Lean Healthcare Academy manager Sarah Ellis, of Haworth, explains: "The academy works alongside organisations to build internal capacity through training, implementation and culture change. We also share information and skills among our members.

"By working in partnership, using practical, proven processes, we have clearly demonstrated that sustainable service transformation can be readily delivered, whereas standard consultancy approaches struggle to sustain results or deliver internal capability. "As the NHS exists to provide healthcare to people, service improvements need a clear patient focus. We have successfully identified whole life benefits for patients, such as reduced stress from reduced waiting times, along with easier access to services through more flexible delivery. "Participating in projects also empowers NHS staff to take control of - and responsibility for - the changes they know are needed to improve services.

"The Lean Healthcare Academy is a truly innovative partnership, solidly based on training, education and project participation. It is a platform for sharing best practice across organisations and bringing members together to create seamless patient pathways. Our plans for 2008/09 include opening regional academies and involving more organisations in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care - and eliminating all waste. We are making a real difference and the Medilink award reflects the impact of our work to date. We remain extremely well placed to meet future opportunities and challenges as we seek to roll out Lean thinking to other NHS Trusts and healthcare sector providers across the UK."