South/South West Hospital Group overall winner of EAHM innovation award

Winners of the 2023 EAHM Innovation Awards.
Prof. Mark Corrigan, Clinical Lead Transforming Theatre SSWHG, Grace Reidy, Transforming Theatre Programme Lead SSWHG, Lucy Nugent, EAHM President and Gerry O’Dwyer, Member  of the Transforming Theatre Programme Steering Committee.

The Transforming Theatre programme – an integrative approach to identifying and improving patient flow through 56 operating theatres/rooms in ten hospitals across the South/South West Hospital Group – is the overall winner of the 2023 EAHM Innovation Awards.

In the first six months of 2023, the project  has resulted in an additional 1,363 theatre hours used and 1,775 additional cases performed across the SSWHG.   

The hospitals involved in the Programme are Bantry General Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Kilcreene Orthopaedic Hospital, Mallow General hospital, Mercy University Hospital, South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Tipperary University Hospital, University Hospital Kerry and University Hospital Waterford.

The Transforming Theatre Programme (TTP) was introduced in 2020  as a collaboration between the SSWHG, the national clinical programme in surgery, the national clinical programme in anaesthetics, the HSE and the RCSI.

Its aim was to:

  • Embed a system of standardised theatre metrics enabling both locally led (tactical & strategic) improvements and high-level Hospital Group development opportunities.
  • Align a process for routine review and action of these metrics locally by Theatre staff and Hospital Theatre Governance Group, and collectively by a Hospital Group Theatre Governance Group. 
  • Provide a structured Quality Improvement methodology to achieve tangible improvements through a multidisciplinary teams (MDT) approach.
  • Advance QI capability for all by providing training, facilitation and coaching at all stages of the programme.

The results were standardised metrics across the ten hospitals and 56 operating rooms, perioperative governance structure deployed in all ten hospitals, quality improvement project support, trust developed across network and network forums established with regular bidirectional communication opportunities.

The project was the recipient of Science Foundation Ireland support to employ artificial intelligence to analyse collected data.

It was also the recipient of European and national management awards and a similar national version is currently being designed and deployed.

The original steering team was Prof Debbie McNamara, Mr Charlie Dineen, Ms Grace Reidy, Mr Padraig Kelly, Ms Bridie O’Sullivan, Mr Gerry O’Dwyer, Dr Gerard O’Callaghan, Dr Julie McCarthy and Prof Mark Corrigan.

Prof. Corrigan, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Cork University Hospital said that  in addition team members in each site played key roles in delivering the transforming theatre philosophy to their hospitals.

“The Transforming Theatre Programme (TTP) at the South/ South West Hospital Group has helped develop perioperative services through a strategic focus on data-driven decision-making and frontline staff empowerment. Following the initial implementation of the TTP which finished in March 2022 the SSWHG Executive Team realised the potential this programme could achieve with some investment. The SSWHG appointed a Clinical lead and a Programme lead to operationalise the programme across the group.  

This has ensured consistency in embedding the TTP structure and systems into business as normal within perioperative settings in the hospitals and building sustainability.

Recognizing that the key to enhancing perioperative services lies in the hands of its providers, the SSWHG has fostered a culture of continuous improvement and data analysis among its staff.

“Central to the TTP’s success is the establishment of a robust communication network connecting perioperative stakeholders across the group. This network has cultivated a shared learning environment, facilitating the exchange of best practices and innovative ideas among different sites.

“A significant aspect of the TTP’s approach is the integration of lean methodologies, guided by expert mentors. This has led to the development of numerous quality improvement projects, further elevating the standard of care.

“In collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Cork (UCC), the TTP has also incorporated an academic dimension into its activities. This is exemplified by the recruitment of a PhD student to explore the role of artificial intelligence in enhancing perioperative services, a project funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

“The culmination of these efforts is evident in the tangible outcomes achieved by the TTP. Not only has there been an increase in the number of surgical patients treated across the SSWHG, but these improvements have also generated an additional 2.8 million euros in operating time. This underscores the TTP’s role as a catalyst for both operational efficiency and financial growth within the hospital group.”

 Prof. Corrigan said that working on this program had been an immense privilege. “It has personally allowed me to witness the remarkable transformation achieved by empowering our staff across ten hospitals and 56 operating rooms. Their skill in identifying and driving improvements is exceptional. With a well-structured approach and effective processes, coupled with strong support from senior management, our perioperative teams are ideally positioned to both devise and implement these improvements.

“This award for the Transforming Theatre Programme is a testament to the extensive work undertaken across all ten theatre complexes of the South/South West Hospital Group. It symbolizes the successful collaboration between national structures, SSWHG management, and local staff. The true reward of everyone’s collective efforts at every level is reflected in the increased number of patients who have already benefited and will continue to benefit from the improvements driven by our staff every day. The commitment demonstrated by everyone involved in the programme has been extraordinary. On a personal note, I hope that showcasing the achievements of this cooperative effort will encourage further investment in similar programmes across our services.”