StAAR research gets the chance to Shine!

Published: 1 February 2013 at 11:50

Anglia Ruskin wins Health Foundation award to run project to improve surgical outcomes

A groundbreaking study to improve the outcome of surgical procedures, run by the Postgraduate Medical Institute (PMI) at Anglia Ruskin University, has been selected as one of 30 nationwide projects to benefit from support from the Health Foundation’s Shine programme.

This latest round of the Shine programme is the largest ever run by the Health Foundation.  The 30 projects were selected from a high number of quality applications from across the health service, and include Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the British Red Cross.  Each team will receive £75,000 of funding as well as support from the Health Foundation.

The projects selected for the Shine programme all involve new approaches to delivering healthcare that will either support patients to be active partners in their own care, improve patient safety or improve quality while reducing costs.

The Anglia Ruskin research team, in partnership with Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, includes expertise in leadership and finance, with clinical leads for each of the areas under investigation.  

The key aims are to reduce complications from burns and cleft palate surgery resulting in improved patient outcome and experience, and reduced costs.  The St Andrew’s Anglia Ruskin (StAAR) research group will act as a project board, feeding information to both Anglia Ruskin and Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust. 

Professor James Hampton-Till, Director of Research at Anglia Ruskin’s PMI, said:

“With any surgical procedure, there is some risk of complications.  It is now widely accepted that measuring the rates of these complications is a key step in improving outcomes.  However, measuring the outcomes does not automatically lead to benefit, unless the information can be fed back to the team promptly enough to drive improvements.
“At present, the typical process of measuring outcomes is carried out retrospectively. This means it may take several years to collect sufficient similar patients having a particular procedure for useful statistical analysis. Following up patients may take several more years, to be sure that they are not going to develop a particular complication, before the data can be analysed.
“Many surgeons publish their outcomes as they retire, by which time it is too late to change. The time elapsed also causes problems with the reliability of the data, as information is lost or corrupted over the years.
“This project is working on implementing monitoring techniques similar to those used for cardiac surgery since the Bristol Inquiry, but in such a way that the costs and resources required are not prohibitive.  These will include innovative approaches to efficient data collection and analysis and new techniques for feeding back to the teams involved.
“The project team will monitor the outcomes in one surgical unit and create a toolkit that can be easily and cheaply rolled out for use by other surgical teams, as well as gathering evidence of effectiveness of the approach.”

Dr Jane Jones, Assistant Director at the Health Foundation, said:

“This year we have chosen the 30 best innovative ideas, selected from a large number of applicants.  
“The project teams will have the challenge of demonstrating the practicality of their ideas and show that they can improve quality and reduce costs with the potential to have high impact when scaled up across the UK.  Our aim is to share and promote the most effective innovations to the clinical and managerial leaders of the UK healthcare system and policy-makers.”