'The Productive Ward: Releasing time to care' was a quality improvement programme developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (NHSI) and introduced in 2007. It was designed to improve efficiency, productivity and performance at ward level in acute hospitals.
It was based on three principles:
- good ward organisation so that materials were readily accessible
- displaying ward-level metrics such as patient safety and experience
- use of visual aids to understand patient status at a glance.
This NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) funded study, published in the Health Services and Delivery Research journal, used quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the programme in six acute hospitals in England. It found some evidence of a lasting impact, such as wards continuing to display metrics and using equipment storage systems. But most hospitals that adopted the programme had stopped using it after three years, often due to a change in their approach to quality improvement.
Productive Ward resources are still available from NHS England’s Sustainable Improvement team, but are under review. This evaluation may be helpful in designing future similar schemes.