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Programme promises patient care improvements for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust

Newsdate: Thursday 2nd October 2008

Staff and patients at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust will benefit from a revolutionary healthcare improvement programme which ‘goes live’ in the North West.

Advancing Quality has been rolled out across the region and aims to save lives and promote better quality patient care.
The Advancing Quality Logo
The programme will also help hospitals save valuable resources – potentially £17million every year – by cutting unnecessary readmissions and the time patients have to spend in hospital whilst at the same time improving the care patients receive.

From October 1st, hospitals within the Trust are now asked to show they have met a series of quality standards when treating patients for four common conditions and procedures - heart attacks, pneumonia, heart failure, hip and knee replacements.  For example, if a patient has a hip or knee replacement, the administering of appropriate antibiotics will now be recorded following a common set of best practice guidelines. 

The top-performing hospitals which show they have met the standards required by the innovative programme will receive financial rewards – which will be reinvested in health services.

A successful trial launched earlier this year has paved the way for the start of the first full year of Advancing Quality this week.

Andrew Foster, Chief Executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust said:  “We are delighted to be rolling out Advancing Quality in our hospitals. We’ve been actively involved in the project for many months and have developed innovative electronic patient care pathways to support the programme”.

Sophisticated new IT information and reporting systems have been introduced specifically for the programme - and will help to minimise its impact on staff workloads. The innovative approach used by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust uses an IT system that prompts our clinical staff to take key actions at specific points during a patient’s treatment.  The system automatically records the actions taken into the patient’s electronic file.
The first wave of conditions and procedures has been chosen because they are relevant to large parts of the NHS in the North West and because they affect significant numbers of people in the region. The conditions also offer practical patient care measures which are easy to monitor - and if these are introduced there is clinical evidence that care improves.

Advancing Quality will be supported through NHS North West’s partner on the programme, Premier Inc, a company which helped pioneer a similar system in the American ‘not for profit’ healthcare sector. In the US, hospitals which performed well saw lower death rates, reduced complications, fewer readmissions and shorter lengths of stay for patients.

Based on this, NHS North West has estimated that the programme will deliver annual benefits to the region’s health service including: 141 saved lives; 159 complications avoided; 248 re-admissions avoided; 20,811 hospital days avoided.

The system works by using measures of patient care quality which are easy to understand – both for NHS staff and the public. Hospitals are then rewarded on the basis of how well they perform. Taking part is voluntary and hospitals will be supported to make improvements and the programme has been developed to encourage the collaborative spread of innovation and best practice from the UK and abroad.

Mike Farrar, Chief Executive of NHS North West, adds: “This is just the beginning and ultimately the plan is to roll out Advancing Quality to other clinical areas. “Advancing Quality has huge potential to improve patient care – and therefore quality of life - for patients using the NHS in the North West. We believe it will help hospitals raise their game – to be more efficient and to bring patient care standards up to world class standards. And it will provide a better system of incentives and rewards for our hard-working NHS medical teams, which will help them expand their skills and knowledge through best practice".
“Customer service has to be at the heart of any organisation or business which deals with people – and the NHS is no exception. Advancing Quality will deliver benefits across the board – and will demonstrate that it is possible to improve patient care while at the same time reducing costs. It will also empower patients – giving them more influence on how the system works by taking their opinions and experiences into account.

“The AQ programme will be independently evaluated and tenders are currently being considered to identify an organisation to carry this out”.

More information is on Advancing Quality is available from the dedicated website: