NHS Lothian driving to boost efficiency

NHS Lothian has set out plans to boost efficiency and make £31m of savings across the organisation, to help tackle the financial challenges facing the public sector.

In a paper due to go before board members next week, the health board has unveiled plans which aim to improve quality and efficiency across the organisation.

This includes working towards an efficiency saving of around £31m in this financial year by introducing more cost-effective ways of working.

This will further build on the efficiency savings of around £20m which have already been achieved in the last financial year.

It will result in a planned reduction of the workforce of around 700 by the end of this financial year.

A number of measures, as well as natural staff turnover, will result in this planned reduction.

The plan aims to tackle the issues of budget restraints facing the public sector, while also supporting investment in essential clinical services.

By introducing more efficient ways of working, NHS Lothian hopes to move further towards its aim of being in the world's top 25 healthcare providers.

As part of the efficiency plans, NHS Lothian is continuing to reduce the use of agency and bank staff across the organisation, and remains committed to ensuring there are no compulsory redundancies.

Increased investment over the past few years in training nurse specialists to run nurse-led clinics has also led to patients being seen faster and has freed up more clinical time for consultants.

NHS Lothian already has one of the lowest sickness absence rates within teaching boards, and increased investment will be put into further driving down short term sickness absence rates in order to increase staff productivity.

A one per cent reduction in sickness absence rates would be equivalent to a saving of 180 WTE staff, which would result in a saving of £6.2m.

The drive will also build on the work already being done across NHS Lothian on the LEAN in Lothian project, which encourages departments to examine ways of working in order to improve efficiency.

As part of the bid to boost efficiency, NHS Lothian is aiming to reduce it's carbon footprint by four per cent in each of the next five years. This would release a minimum of £600k per annum to be reinvested in clinical services.

NHS Lothian also plans to consolidate the number of administrative office buildings across Lothian from 13 down to three over the next few years.

Reducing the number of offices in use will produce long-term cost savings and by moving administration staff out of our hospital sites, it will also increase the amount of clinical space which can be used directly for patient care.

This process will begin when the board's headquarters relocates to a city centre location in June.

The new rented office will have lower energy use and costs, and will also contribute towards increased staff efficiency by encouraging a more flexible way of working.

More investment will also be made into increasing staff productivity across the organisation through staff training, better use of IT and service redesign.

In particular, increased investment in teleconferencing facilities will enable staff to take part in meetings without the need to travel, reducing the carbon footprint, increasing working time, and releasing more time for clinical staff to spend with patients. This could have a potential cost saving of up to £130k per month.

Susan Goldsmith, Director of Finance, NHS Lothian, said:

 "Due to the financial challenges which we are all facing, NHS Lothian is looking at ways to increase our productivity and efficiency, while continuing to deliver high standards of patient care.
"As part of this, we are looking at innovative ways of increasing our staff productivity, reducing our carbon footprint, and generally improving efficiency across the whole organisation."

Eddie Egan, Employee Director, NHS Lothian, added:

 "The trade unions and professional organisations have been involved in all of these discussions, and NHS Lothian's staff partnership forum has played a key role in the work which is being done to reduce sickness absence.
"It is important to stress that there will be no compulsory staff redundancies."