Meeting your deadline for operational resilience and capacity plans
16/06/2014by Rob Findlay
If you’re in the English NHS, new guidance means you have to submit “operational resilience and capacity plans” to your NHS England area team by the end of July.
But what on earth are “operational resilience and capacity plans”? Actually, this is pretty sensible stuff. As the guidance says:
Whilst winter is clearly a period of increased pressure, establishing sustainable year-round delivery requires capacity planning to be ongoing and robust. This will put the NHS, working with its partners in local authorities, in a position to move away from a reactive approach to managing operational problems, and towards a proactive system of year round operational resilience.
Yes, there’s an election coming, and politicians are super keen to avoid waiting times breaches and winter crises between now and 7th May. But that political backdrop doesn’t make ongoing, proactive capacity planning a bad thing, so how can you get the maximum benefits?
State-of-the-art proactive planning
For non-elective care (for which there is £400 million attached from the Department of Health) the operational resilience planning template is at Annex A of the guidance, and top of the list is:
Enabling better and more accurate capacity modelling and scenario planning across the system
For elective care (with £250 million attached) the planning requirement is to:
Carry out an annual analysis of capacity and demand for elective services at sub specialty level, and keep under regular review and update when necessary. This should be done as part of resilience and capacity plans and then updated in operating plans for 2015/16
You can deliver both tasks quite straightforwardly in one go using Gooroo Planner. Even if you haven’t started using Planner yet, it should take days rather than weeks to get your fully-loaded model set up and ready. So you and your newly-formed “System Resilience Group” should have plenty of time to do a thorough job.
Intuitive and visual
As well as planning the coming period in a single lump, Planner also breaks your plans down week-by-week. So you can ensure that “18 weeks” is operationally sustainable all year round, and not just at year-end; especially in months when your main concern is keeping up with non-elective demand, or managing with low staffing during the holiday season.
If I were to quibble with the guidance on one point here, it would be its use of the word “accurate”. Nobody knows exactly what the demand for healthcare is going to be in the future, so it is more important to be “adaptive” than “accurate”. You need to keep refreshing your plans, so that you can adapt capacity a little and often as demand patterns shift.
The most important time horizon for doing that runs from 6 weeks to a few months into the future. That is when sessions are mostly unbooked and annual leave is not yet finalised, so you have maximum freedom to adapt your capacity in response to drifting demand. Yet this time horizon is barely exploited in the NHS today, and that needs to change if a “proactive system of year round operational resilience” is to be established.
Gooroo Planner is ideal for this tactical-range operational planning, because it shows you visually how things are likely to pan out over the coming weeks and months, with things like half term and Christmas and everything else clearly laid out. You can even change your activity profiles just by clicking a chart, making it easy to prepare for periods when it will be more difficult to admit elective patients.
Does all this mean a massive workload for your information analysts, who have to prepare all this modelling and then keep it up to date? Not at all.
Your regular planning can be fully automated using the Planner API, and the results can even drop right into your existing performance monitoring systems. So whether you monitor in a spreadsheet, or have flashy dashboarding like QlikView or Tableau, all your detailed week-by-week planning scenarios can be regularly refreshed and distributed right across the organisation without any human involvement.
If you don’t have Gooroo Planner yet, then just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to give you a demo and get you up and running right away (and all our pricing is published here.) If you are already using Planner, and want some help generating your operational resilience and capacity plans, then you benefit from our unlimited remote support so please ask for help any time you want it.Return to Post Index