Surgical sets at the point of need should be available to avoid cancelling operations due to a lack of equipment. In case of unavailability of surgical sets at point of need (i.e. for a particular surgery at a particular operating theatre) a set has to be ordered from the SSD. Replacement sets can come from either another operating theatre (which might be at a different hospital site) or can be sent to the Sterile Services Department directly for cleaning. In the latter case, which is the focus of this study, delivery of these instruments regularly needs to be fast-tracked, i.e. transported to and from SSD individually, at extra costs and extra work.
In particular, fast-tracking of instruments causes additional and unplanned peaks in the workload for the sterilisation department. It is a key aim of this project to capture the impact and potential sources of current fast-tracking orders on the workload in the sterilisation department.
a) To understand how frequent fast-track ordering of surgical sets affects the workload over time, i.e. on a normal working day and on weekends
b) To assess data requirements for a dedicated decision support tool, e.g. a discrete simulation model which could help simulate possible policy changes
The outcome of this will be a follow-up research project, potentially looking at external funding. Together with stakeholders, different policies need to be developed and assessed to (a) decrease the number of fast-tracking orders and (b) change the demand inflow, i.e. normal orders and fast-tracking orders, over the day. Also, the effect of planned extended operating hours (i.e. on Sundays) or the increase in demand for cleaning specialised sets as a result of centralising orthopaedic surgeries should be explored.