nhs trust-wide transformation
The challenge

The Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust is a high performing Trust and one of only five Trusts to receive the UK Top 40 Hospitals award for 12 consecutive years.

However, given the challenges now facing the NHS, the Countess recognised the need to transform its culture and introduce new ways of working while delivering the highest quality of patient care through committed and capable people.

In order to help achieve its objectives it appointed Unipart Expert Practices to help develop this new approach that was to be called the Countess Way.

How we helped

Our experience, in our own company, has shown that a high level of employee engagement is central to ensuring that any new way of working is sustained.

In order to understand how the Countess operated from a cultural and process perspective, a trust-wide diagnostic was completed, which involved us engaging with some 350 employees, at all levels, in the process.

As a result of this initial work, we worked with the Trust to prioritise a number of activities that would help embed the Countess Way, whilst at the same time delivering immediate benefits to both performance and
patient care.

Building capability – a key priority

Among the priorities identified were: the transfer of skills and capability to trust employees; leadership development and management skills training; pathway and process improvement and the redesign and implementation of a new organisation structure.

Critical to success would be placing the quality of patient care at the heart of any transformation and ensuring the engagement of staff and the wider health economy at all levels, if the benefits were to be sustained and continuously improved.

In partnership with the executive team, clinical staff and the Countess Way Transformation Team, we worked in patient pathway improvement, theatres, patient administration, outpatient appointments, medical supplies and HR processes to deliver the initial priorities within 18 months.

From the outset, we jointly applied robust project management to achieving specific benefits. This approach enabled timely decision making and accountability to be managed; it also enabled the Trust to identify quantifiable benefits as a direct result of the introduction of the Countess Way Programme.

The results

To date, embedding the Countess Way programme has delivered:

  • A cut of £2 million in operating costs, as a result of reduced lengths of patient stay, increased theatre utilisation and lower spends on medical supplies.
  • Success in building employee engagement resulting in improved absence rates that have helped boost productivity and reduce the need for overtime. The Trust now achieves the highest staff attendance levels of any hospital in their region and as a consequence, payroll costs have fallen by £1.5 million following the reduction in the need for temporary staff.
  • Length of patient stay has been reduced between 9% and 27%
  • An increase in patient satisfaction from 84% to 94%

The Trust was awarded Project of the Year by the Lean Healthcare Academy.