Your plan achieves 18 weeks at year end. But…

by Rob Findlay

With a sigh of relief, you’ve signed off your plans for 2013/14 (or at least you’re about to). Presumably, those plans provide levels of activity that the commissioner can afford, the provider can deliver, and that achieve the 18 week waiting times standards.

Or at least, they achieve those things on average. But what about next month?

The trouble is, it makes a big difference how that activity is profiled through the year. Even if everything goes according to plan, and demand turns out exactly the way you expected, you can still end up with capacity and waiting times problems when winter and the school holidays come around. Your plan should really profile your elective work across the year, to avoid things like trying to bring in lots of orthopaedics in the middle of January, while making sure you won’t breach 18 weeks during the temporary slow-downs.

The planning process already requires this, of course, with monthly activity trajectories to support the overall activity plans. But usually it is hard enough agreeing the overall plan, and the monthly breakdown is just rattled off pro rata to feed the beast. The last time I saw a serious attempt to do this properly in a spreadsheet, it was an Excel monster of 100,000 cells. So profiling activity through the year is a nice idea, but too hard to do in practice, is it?

Well it may be too hard in a spreadsheet, but it’s straightforward in Gooroo Planner. Just click the Profiling icon and it will chart your plan as week-by-week trajectories for activity, capacity and waiting times. It even shows total capacity and RTT waits too, and you can download all the detail for pasting into other documents.

Changing the profile is easy, and we’ve designed it for people who aren’t comfortable manipulating spreadsheet formulae – you can just click any week to change the profile, and immediately see the effects of half terms, Christmas, and pre-winter activity blitzes, right there on the chart. (Now is the ideal time to start planning for next winter, by the way; if you leave it until autumn it’ll be too late to front-load some surgery.)

Want to devolve this kind of planning to the Trust’s operational divisions? Easy; just share the master plan with them using Gooroo’s built-in collaboration tools, and let them edit their bits of it directly. That way they’re all using the same methodology, they’re all using the demand for patient care as their starting point, and they’re all working to the same corporate framework.

Want to collaborate between commissioners and providers? That’s easy too. Providers have all the data required and commissioners don’t, so the provider just pumps it into the model and shares it with the commissioner. That way, commissioners can take a private copy of the plan to test their own assumptions, and then both sides can track agreed changes in the master model with an audit trail every step of the way.

So it’s time to reset your assumptions, because planning is much easier, more powerful, and more collaborative than ever before. If you’d like to learn more about Gooroo Planner with a free on-site demo, just email

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