Warehouse holds the key to helping the NHS do more with less

New facility uses simulation and modelling to help the NHS meet its challenges using fewer resources

A new centre has opened at a warehouse in Slough which will use simulation and modelling to help the NHS do more with fewer resources.

The first of its kind in the UK, the Cumberland Institute hopes its new facility will hold the key to protecting and enhancing health services despite the need for efficiencies.

It will use simulation and modelling technologies to test solutions to a wide range of problems currently facing the NHS.

Simulation and modelling offers clinicians and management a risk-free environment to trial changes across a whole range of issues facing the NHS as it continually strives to do more with fewer resources

Explains lead academic, Professor Terry Young of Brunel University London: “We all know operating a national health care service is an intensely complex task and introducing changes can be fraught with difficulty as those running A&E departments and operating theatres can’t ever put patients at risk or risk disruption when introducing innovation.

“Simulation and modelling offers clinicians and management a risk-free environment to trial changes across a whole range of issues facing the NHS as it continually strives to do more with fewer resources.”

The facility is being run by the Cumberland Initiative – a consortium made up of Brunel, UCL, Imperial College, Southampton and Cardiff universities – and will be used by doctors, private companies and NHS England clinical commissioning groups.

Professor Young said: “We can help with modelling and simulation projects, support, consultancy or training. We can also develop hospitals, doctors and NHS managers to model and simulate for decision support or even, through our industry links, provide a bespoke solution.

“Finally, we can disseminate through our networks detailed information on projects elsewhere which have used the techniques successfully along with detailed implementation plans.

Our focus is on projects that provide improved outcomes for patients, decreased costs, reduced waiting times, better use of resources, speedier feedback for decision making and strong stakeholder involvement

“Our focus is on projects that provide improved outcomes for patients, decreased costs, reduced waiting times, better use of resources, speedier feedback for decision making and strong stakeholder involvement.”

Earlier this year the initiative was able to point to its first successes with trusts in London, Cardiff, Devon, Lincolnshire and Nottingham using modelling to get the right mix of bed capacity, ambulance availability, consultant cover, ward organisation and GP support to tackle the winter crisis many hospitals experience in their A+E departments.

Elsewhere, in Lincolnshire an A&E department has invested in GP presence for intermediate care because of modelling forecasts; and the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust is rejigging its A&E department based on modelling after it was told demand elsewhere would be rerouted to it in future.

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