12 January 2022

The Eight Wastes – Can You Name Them?

By Susan Alfred, Improvement Advisor and Sarah Barnett, Financial Viability Programme Manager

The Quality Improvement department are running short two-part, 30 minute sessions to help staff apply QI tools called ‘QI tools – Learn and Apply’.

Last November, the focus was on the ‘8 Wastes Tool’. There was great interest in this topic, with almost 50 staff signing up!

Waste reduction is a key component of how we improve value at ELFT and these workshops were designed and delivered in partnership with the Financial Viability team.

The first workshop included a demonstration on how staff can use the ‘DOWNTIME’ acronym as defined on the waste wheel tool (figure one below), to remove elements in the process that do not add value.

The tool has the potential to:

  • Improve the efficiency and quality of care
  • Release staff time to focus on the things that matter
  • Reduce Trust costs and to make savings

Figure one: The 8 Wastes Wheel

The waste wheel is a great addition to your improvement toolbox and has universal application. You can practice by watching processes in your local supermarket and see if you can identify any of the above.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is their inventory wrong – do they have too much milk (which will expire before purchased) but not enough bread (meaning sales lost to a competitor)?
  • Do they have long queues at manned checkouts but several available self-checkouts (leaving some customers waiting)?
  • Are their crates filled inefficiently (forcing an assistant has to move around the store more than necessary to stock shelves and taking more time)?

Have a go! And then turn your attention to your own team. Which processes waste time and frustrate you? Ask service users which of the processes don’t work well for them.

It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of workshop attendees in this topic! A number of staff shared specific examples of the potential impact a poor process can have, one with negative consequences for a service user. One participant, Adeola Omotoso, from the Older People’s Community Mental Health Team in Tower Hamlets, had already taken steps to remove the waste by the time she returned for the second workshop. Adeola told us how she had stopped a paper process and implemented something quicker, easier and more digital.

There was also a lively conversation around purchasing, expense claims, ward rostering, asset tracking processes and so much more, with attendees committed to developing pieces of improvement work to reduce or remove the waste from many of these processes. In figure two below you can see some of the waste we identified via the workshop survey:

Figure two: feedback from the workshop’s survey

The handout from the workshops have been added to the QI microsite. Take a look at these if you too want to tackle some waste in your area. Your local Improvement Advisor is always on hand should you need some support with developing this into improvement work, you can also contact the Trust’s Financial Viability Team via sarah.barnett6@nhs.net particularly if your idea will reduce costs or if it is a suggestion to improve one of our big Trust-wide processes.

We plan to repeat the ‘8 Wastes Tool’ workshops in early 2022 so if you were unable to attend last time and this topic interests you, register your interest to attend a further waste workshop. You can see what other sessions are running, and sign up for them here.

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