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NHS Institute launches Radiology Services Kit

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement has sent every NHS trust in England a new kit designed to help radiology departments review and assess their booking processes for the benefit of both patients and staff.

Diagnostic imaging has become increasingly central to clinical processes, with over 33 million examinations performed a year. The increasing demand for the service frequently causes a bottleneck in patient pathways contributing to longer waiting times.

Developed in partnership with radiology departments and frontline NHS staff, Transforming your Radiology Services Kit: Focus on Booking Processes helps radiology teams to review and improve booking processes, which are often the source of delays in radiology.

The kit has been developed following 12 months of research by the NHS Institute’s Delivering Quality and Value team. The team observed a selection of radiology departments across England to identify characteristics of high-quality care as well as ideal pathways for back patients undergoing MRI. Their findings were reported in a 2008 document called Focus on: MRI and Low Back Pain.

Robin Evans, NHS Institute’s lead clinician for the project and a consultant radiologist at Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust, Croydon explains: “During our observations it became rapidly clear that booking processes vary a great deal between trusts, not only between radiology units, but also between modalities (MRI, CT, ultrasound etc.) within the same department.  The booking process of receiving requests, vetting and sending appointments often takes days or weeks. There is also little choice for patients on where they receive their treatment.

“It was therefore decided to develop a specific tool to help departments rapidly map and assess their booking processes against current best practice. We’ve seen how this kit not only helps trusts to provide solutions and action plans for greater efficiency but also empowers staff to streamline their workload.”

Transforming your Radiology Services Kit: Focus on Booking Processes has already been tested at a number of trusts in England. Excellent results demonstrate its potential to improve radiology services, increasing the speed of assessment within a format that staff value and enjoy.

Amanda Bisset, clinical director and consultant radiologist at Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, said: “In one afternoon we mapped our booking processes, highlighted areas for improvement and developed action plans, thanks to this very quick and simple toolkit. Both patients and staff have benefited from reduced DNA rates, shortened time taken for vetting and booking requests, and improved staff education and morale through greater involvement.”

NHS Institute