GIRFT symposium highlights improvements in care at University Hospitals Plymouth

Around 200 guests gathered in Plymouth for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust’s (UHP) first Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) symposium.

Organised by the team at the trust, the event saw colleagues from across the south west visiting Derriford Hospital to hear examples of service transformation across a range of clinical specialties.

Lord Carter of Coles, author of the 2016 Carter review of operational productivity of acute trusts, was also in attendance, to hear how UHP has been tackling unwarranted variation.

The day began with an update from GIRFT chair and the national director of clinical improvement for the NHS, Professor Tim Briggs, who explained the programme’s position as part of the NHS Long Term Plan and shared examples of where GIRFT has made progress in a number of trusts. He also highlighted improvement opportunities in areas such as litigation and surgical site infection rates.

Prof Briggs’ address was followed by presentations by UHP medical director Phil Hughes and GIRFT programme manager Laura Langsford, who explained some of the challenges faced by the trust and how GIRFT has been embraced by clinicians as a vehicle for change.

Attendees then heard from staff in eight clinical specialties on the benefits GIRFT has helped them to realise, including lower transfusion rates in cardiothoracic surgery, increased theatre capacity in ophthalmology and better staff morale thanks to new dermatology clinics.

Speaking about the day, UHP medical director Dr Phil Hughes said: “We were delighted to welcome so many colleagues to the workshop, both internally across the trust and externally across the south region. It provided an opportunity to show the clinically-led projects the team have been working on, both in response to data directly from GIRFT specialty visits and in response to best practice outlined within the GIRFT national specialty reports.

“The GIRFT programme of work has brought a breadth of data into the organisation and has directly influenced the selection of our trust priorities for 2019/20. We embrace the GIRFT methodology and approach in supporting our improvement and efficiency focus.”

During the symposium, consultant urologist Mr Andrew Dickinson told how GIRFT had been the catalyst for his department’s decision to write a business case for a fixed lithotripter, which will release consultant operating time, improve timeliness of patient care and reduce demand on beds.

Consultant plastic surgeon Mr Duncan MacKenzie shared how GIRFT’s clinical lead for paediatric surgery, Simon Kenny, advised the team on moving towards day case treatment for hypospadias repair, inviting Mr MacKenzie and a colleague to visit Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust to see how the procedure is carried out there. The move is expected to improve patient experience and release bed capacity at the trust.

UHP’s chief procurement officer and lead for spend analysis at NHS England and Improvement, Andy McMinn, also explained how GIRFT highlighted the trust as an outlier for image outsourcing. Based on this information, UHP has been able to challenge the cost and secure a significant saving.

Mr McMinn also presented on the new NHS Spend Comparison Service and shared insights on procurement opportunities available to trusts.

GIRFT has been working with University Hospitals Plymouth since 2014, when Professor Briggs first visited the trust’s orthopaedic services. The trust is now held as an exemplar by the programme for its strong governance model, which enables GIRFT recommendations to be realised across specialties.

Following the event, colleagues from the Devon STP met to discuss how GIRFT could be better utilised across the system in the future, inspired by the examples shared by UHP.

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