Managing the ebb and flow

Vanguard supplies Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust with mobile endoscopy unit

Throughout the year, NHS trusts face varying and unpredictable demand for treatment.

Sometimes unplanned added pressure is manageable, but buildings have an upper limit of capacity and staff can only do so much before they become overworked.

Traditional solutions to increase capacity are often too long term to deal quickly with periods of high demand.

So, can trusts embrace a new way of thinking to match supply with demand?

One organisation found the answer with Vanguard Healthcare Solutions’ mobile surgical facilities.

In July 2015, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust found the demand for endoscopy treatment at its largest site, Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, had exceeded the hospital’s current capacity levels. Increasing permanent capacity was not an option.

New bricks-and-mortar facilities are expensive and take a long time to build, and there was no guarantee the demand for procedures would remain high.

However, with the advent of mobile facilities, a trust’s clinical capacity can easily be increased in the short to medium term.

Vanguard Healthcare Solutions is the leading supplier of mobile healthcare facilities to the NHS and has supplied capacity solutions to the majority of trusts across the UK, and the trust was able to have a mobile endoscopy suite installed on site.

The endoscopy suite includes a procedure room, full recovery ward, and functioning reception and discharge areas. There are washer-disinfectors between the procedure and utility rooms, meaning the portable endoscopy centre is fully self contained, allowing the service to operate both on and away from the main hospital site while ensuring patient safety is protected.

However, there was another issue that was impacting Heartland’s patient flow. Although the question of physical space had been answered, like more NHS providers, the trust’s frontline staff were overstretched. More space is a vital commodity, but without any staff to manage it, no more patients could be seen.

Every Vanguard unit comes with the option of a host of frontline clinical staffing – both nurses and operating department practitoners. Fortunately, Vanguard was able to provide a full clinical team of five and a healthcare assistant to fully support the trust’s clinicians in delivering a safe and efficient service.

Steve Clayton, clinical contract manager at Vanguard Healthcare Solutions, said: “The hospital has been able to see so many extra patients since we’ve been here. Our unit is self contained, so all processing and procedures happen in the same place. I think we’ve made a big difference in easing some pressure.

“From the inside it’s hard to tell you’re in a mobile unit, and patients are often surprised to learn it’s not a permanent facility.

In just six months, 1,830 patients received the treatment they needed in the Vanguard unit.

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