Synergy Health Shortlisted in Prestigious HSJ Efficiency Awards

Published: 
08/10/2012
HSJ Efficiency Awards

A major efficiency project between Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust and Synergy Health has been shortlisted for a HSJ Efficiency Award in the Efficiency in Clinical Support Services category.

In 2008 the Trust comprised two acute sites and a community hospital supported by an in-house laundry and a nearly new sterile services unit built with Department of Health investment as a regional facility, providing services for three Trusts and several PCTs.  Both the laundry and the SSU were staffed by 108 Trust employees who provided a critical service yet were remote from core operations.
 
Following business review it became clear that transferring the services to a third party was both a viable and realistic option which would achieve a number of objectives while safeguarding these critical services in terms of patient care and safety:
 

  • Guaranteed continuity of and improved quality of service – governed by KPI-led managed service contract
  • Freeing up premium space occupied by the laundry unit which could be repurposed for clinical use
  • Realise substantial tangible benefits: compliance, risk transfer, productivity, quality and recurring cost savings
  • Provide a positive solution for 108 NHS employees affected by the change

 
Synergy Health, a leading provider of specialist outsourced services to healthcare providers, emerged in the procurement process as the only realistic partner for both services with a proven track record in and strong references from other NHS Trusts in both services.
 
Working together the partnership was driven by achievement of high quality, safe services coupled with cost savings and the freeing up of estate for other clinical use.
 
Since the contract formally commenced on May 2009 a number of key outcomes have been secured:
 

  • The laundry service was transferred to a state-of-the-art facility owned and run by Synergy Health at Dunstable which allowed for a lease linen service to become operational – therefore replacing old or worn linens and enhancing patient care. 
  • The laundry team at Synergy were able to work strategically on a ward-by-ward basis on bed planning which created a ‘just in time’ service therefore maximising supply and productivity while minimising costs.
  • The former laundry estate was refurbished and now houses services previously run from leased premises therefore realising further recurring yield from tied up capital.
  • The flagship decontamination unit at King George Hospital is run as a joint venture between the Trust and Synergy Health and where third party contract profits are shared.
  • The SSU was brought up to full compliance and all risk completely transferred to Synergy Health.
  • 108 NHS staff were transferred under TUPE to the employment of Synergy Health and some now have a new sterile services qualification, some have achieved promotion, others have been deployed on request elsewhere in the Trust and some were retrained as healthcare assistants.

 
Achieved metrics include:
 

  • Recurring linen cost savings of £900,000 pa
  • Recurring sterile services savings of £450,000 pa
  • Enhanced SSU capacity
  • Reduced defect rates from 1% to 0.2%
  • Improved turnaround times from an average of over 20 hours to 13 hours
  • Daily processing increased from 380 to 570 trays per day
  • Delivery delays reduced from 3% to less than 0.15%
  • New third party income stream from sterile services 
  • New income stream from linen profit share
  • Estimated £1m capital (estimated) required to upgrade laundry freed up for front-line services

 
The financial resources required to develop this initiative were borne predominately by Synergy Health.  The Trust allocated management time to the review and transfer the process, in addition to strategic supplier assessment by Procurement.
 
Through a well constructed and negotiated managed services contract the Trust maintains tight control of both linen and sterile services through the achievement of KPIs.
 
The Trust continues to work with Synergy to improve the service and maximise savings opportunities such as including products that are eligible for VAT deduction.  It also charges Synergy to continuously increase revenue from the other third parties serviced from the facility to increase the Trust’s third party revenue stream. 
 
Adrian Coward, CEO UK and Ireland, Synergy Health comments “This project is highly transferable and the skilled and experienced management board are keen to share their experiences and learning. Trusts around the country could very easily work to this model. By using an approved and experienced outsourcing partner most or all of Trust strategic objectives can be met – particularly when the partner’s goals align with that of the Trust and both parties are as driven by continuity of care and the safety of the patient.”

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