Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust have long experience of using Lean in mental health services. There is a brief description of the focus of their work here.
The website gives limited detail, but their work is impressive. I have attended one of their training courses, and I had the opportunity recently to visit the one of the Trust’s hospitals, in Darlington, as part of a group visit.It is worth summarising how their work looked from the outside.
The investment of time and effort, and investment in staff training was striking. The Trust arranged for some key staff to be trained in the Virginia Mason Production System, and then developed its own variant of Lean over time, the North East Transformation System. As with other well known organisations using Lean, they now offer training.
I was struck by the multiple layers of training. Martin Barkley, the Trust Chief Executive, told us that he personally attended induction training for people joining the Trust wherever possible, and as part of his discussion with new staff, emphasised the role of improvement methods in the Trust.
As well as the specialist training for staff working as Lean leaders, the team offers courses aimed at managers and clinicians. The training was similar to that given on the Lean Leaders course, but project work was directed at a topic of interest to the staff member. Martin Barkley’s reflection was that this training, and practical experience, helped to increase involvement and often resulted in great examples of practical improvements.
I had the opportunity to speak to a range of staff, few of whom were specialist Lean practitioners. I was impressed by their use of processes that had been improved in the course of Lean work. Not all the staff to whom I spoke had training in Lean, but all seemed comfortable with improvement approaches, and spoke positively of the changes they had seen in service delivery.
For me, this was the most persuasive evidence that Lean had become embedded in the Trust’s systems. Maintaining staff involvement must require considerable effort, but this constant investment in training and engagement appeared to me to be part of the reason for the successes described by the staff.
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