Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust improves efficiency, reduces cost, and promotes quality patient care through asset management contract
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) provides high-quality integrated mental health, learning disability, and community health services.
The trust was created in 2002 and merged with Leicester City and Leicestershire County and Rutland Community Health Services as a result of the national Transforming Community Services agenda in April 2011.
We need our suppliers effectively to become extensions to our own team, fully integrated and adding immediate and longer-term value to what we do
This provided greater opportunities to join up mental health and physical health care pathways and advance the health and wellbeing of the people and communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
LPT now serves a population of one million people, employs over 5,500 staff in a wide variety of roles across 154 sites, and manages an estimated 7,000 separate medical devices and assets.
It has changed dramatically over recent years and is, like many other NHS providers, now faced with a set of common challenges, including limited budgets and a growing demand for services.
In the current socioeconomic climate of high demand and finite resource, brought about in part by a rapidly-aging population, LPT identified a need to overhaul its management of hospital beds and mattresses.
With quality at the heart of all decision-making, the trust has a clear mandate to derive the best-possible value and service from suppliers as part of LPT’s capital programme; so set about reviewing its assets and management methods.
LPT had previously used another service provider to procure new equipment, plan preventative maintenance schedules, decontaminate and carry out non-scheduled repairs.
Out-of-hours repairs were charged separately, however, which made financial planning difficult.
Additionally, the provider was unable to provide LPT with full visibility over its own assets, specifically their makes, models, ages, and service and repair histories.
With the contract passively rolling year on year, a culture of complacency developed, whereby the lack of reporting from the provider meant LPT’s medical devices asset manager, Kerry Palmer, had little visibility over the age and condition of the beds and mattresses and while they were being maintained there was not sufficient data to understand how they were performing or how many required replacing over a set period of time.
Recognising that this lack of visibility was hindering the trust’s ability to make quality-oriented, cost-effective decisions that best support patient care, the trust opted to put the contract out to tender in February 2016.
Palmer said: “As part of the National Sign Up to Safety initiative, and our centralised medical devices management strategy, it was imperative for us to shine a light on the beds and mattresses we manage.
“Understanding each asset’s history and relevance to our current patient population enabled us to make informed, quality-led decisions to both calculate the risk of continuing to maintain existing assets or present a compelling case to obtain funding for any necessary replacements or upgrades.
“We were keen to use the tender process as an opportunity to deliver our centralised asset management strategy and achieve better value for money. It was also an opportunity to look at ways to futureproof our equipment to cope with the trends we’re noticing relating to both an ageing patient population and to ensure appropriate products and services are able to meet increased demand.
In an effort to reduce the volume of contracts awarded via chief executive waivers, LPT began a three-month tender process via NHS Supply Chain, inviting five hospital bed and mattress providers to bid.
The system used to measure supplier compatibility scored suppliers based on two core metrics: quality and funding. Up against four other suppliers, Medstrom performed best against both sets of criteria.
Understanding each asset’s history and relevance to our current patient population enabled us to make informed, quality-led decisions to both calculate the risk of continuing to maintain existing assets or present a compelling case to obtain funding for any necessary replacements or upgrades
A further benefit of opting for the UK’s only independent manufacturer and supplier of hospital beds and mattresses and bed management services, were the efficiencies related to closer operational alignment with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) – LPT’s acute hospital partner.
The advantages of economies of scale came in to play as Medstrom also runs the bed management contract for UHL.
LPT was able, therefore, to align itself immediately with the operational practices of its strategic partner. The trust was also able to provide continuity to patients transferring between the two organisations and boost repair and maintenance efficiencies by having greater access to dedicated engineers on site, or nearby.
Commenting on the selection process, Palmer said: “It was key for us to apply appropriate due diligence during the selection process.
“As a small team serving a patient population of around a million people, it’s crucial that we achieve the right balance between value and service.
“We need our suppliers effectively to become extensions to our own team, fully integrated and adding immediate and longer-term value to what we do; supporting and enhancing our efforts to contribute to the trust’s ability to put quality at the heart of everything we do.
“The tender was a quick one by NHS standards, lasting around three months from start to finish, as we took advantage of the NHS Supply Chain Maintenance, Repair and Calibration of Medical Equipment framework.
“A quick award decision was able to be made as Medstrom clearly demonstrated its superior competencies in all key areas, and the fact that UHL also works with the company and was able to provide a very positive referral made it the logical choice.”
Medstrom took over the management of LPT’s beds and mattresses in May 2016.
Phase one of the contract saw it analyse and audit all LPT assets in order to provide full visibility over the status of each item managed, as well as the spare parts itinerary.
As part of this initial project, the existing asset data for 850 beds and 250 mattresses was loaded into i-Tracker, Medstrom’s bespoke asset management system.
As Medstrom started to handle the products, the condition of the equipment, its correct location and service and repair history were recorded.
A new serial numbering system was also allocated to make tracking and viewing the interactions of assets simpler, all combining to provide much-needed transparency to Palmer and the team at LPT.
The delivery of harm-free care and the mitigation of all other ‘never events’ is a key priority for LPT. Therefore, being better equipped to provide the right type of bed or mattress, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right condition, is helping it to deliver on these visions and values.
Another key benefit is the improvement in the response time associated with ad-hoc repair and maintenance, with a response time of just one day instead of the previous average of five days.
With demand for beds increasing at LPT, reducing the downtime of assets is helping the trust to maximise opportunities for positive patient experiences.
Additionally, the Medstrom 24-hour repair or replace Service Level Agreement means LPT has access to a responsive team of technicians 24 hours a day, 365 days per year – something the previous supplier was unable to commit to without charging additional fees.
The increase in available data and regular reporting relating to LPT’s bed and mattress assets is empowering the trust to make more-intelligent, evidence-based recommendations. For example, Palmer is now able to identify trends surrounding in which areas of the trust, or on what days of the week, beds are failing most. This information helps LPT to prioritise more effectively which assets need attention most urgently.
Anecdotally, Palmer has noticed a significant reduction in calls from nurses out of hours. She attributes this to Medstrom’s dedicated technicians responding quickly and effectively, without the need for her own mediation.