As a partnership of NHS Trusts across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, plus the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, PenCLAHRC aims to work with healthcare professionals, policymakers and the public to identify areas of research that reflect the real needs and concerns of the health service in the South West. Highlighting how this works in practice, we’ve brought together some of the work we've carried out with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT). PenCLAHRC has undertaken several successful projects in collaboration with the Trust, with some now feeding into Cornwall's Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). Collaborative projects include integrating the Muscular Skeletal therapy services of Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske and Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, and reviewing the distribution of outpatient clinics and clinicians across all RCHT’s sites, to make the best possible use of resources and minimise travel time for patients and clinicians.
Making an impact on treatment times
An ongoing collaboration with the RCHT Urology team has already led to a new protocol being created based on evidence from our Operational Research team, PenCHORD. It began in 2016 when the Trust approached PenCLAHRC to ask for assistance in reducing delays in the treatment pathway for muscle-invasive bladder cancer at Royal Cornwall Hospital.
This type of bladder cancer is particularly aggressive and timing is critical in determining the outcome of treatment. PenCHORD met with RCHT to map the current treatment system and built a Discrete Event Simulation model that allowed them to test ‘what if’ scenarios. Based on the results of this model, the team recommended that all suspected muscle-invasive patients should be fast-tracked through specialist testing and spoken to about their diagnosis on the same day. A new protocol has been created and these changes are predicted to achieve a 35% reduction in the time from referral to treatment.
Speeding up pre-operative assessments
Building on this success, we are currently working with RCHT anaesthetists to help them implement new NICE guidelines on pre-operative assessments. PenCHORD are developing a computer simulation model to identify potential benefits for the Trust of investing in systems and software that enable them to access data to determine a patient's fitness to undergo anaesthetic. The model will assess whether advance access to this data could decrease the waiting time between the 'decision to operate' and the final outcome of pre-operative assessments, i.e. when the patient is declared ‘fit for surgery’.
Building capacity within the RCHT
Our modelling partnership continues with Joe Turner, Information Analyst at RCHT, learning the latest modelling techniques to take back to the Trust through our Health Service Modelling Associates programme. Under the guidance of PenCHORD mentor Dan Chalk, Joe is working with Pierre Rautenbach, Opthalmology Consultant at the Trust, and using computer simulation to identify and minimise bottlenecks within the acute eye service at Royal Cornwall Hospital.
These projects provide an example of how PenCLAHRC works across the South West health service. We aim to continue fostering successful partnerships with all our stakeholders to develop new, exciting and innovative initiatives that will further improve patient services across the region. If you would like to speak to us about how we can work with you to address health service issues or uncertainties in your organisation, please do get in touch.