Utilization of plastic surgery theatres in a single UK Centre

Value Added Abstract

Harry Lobb


Given the average cost of a NHS operating theatre is £1,200 per hour, it is essential that optimal utilisation is achieved. There are no standard guidelines for plastic surgery theatre utilisation. UK governmental institutions have suggested that operating departments should aim for 90% utilisation but there has been little research to validate the target of 90%. In 2018, the NHS Benchmarking Network’s Operating Theatres project suggested a minimum of 83% utilisation should be achieved by general surgery theatres. In this study, the database ‘Opera’ was accessed to retrospectively analyse plastic surgery theatre times. Theatre utilisation was calculated as a percentage of total scheduled theatre time used by operative time. This audit aimed to assess the utilisation of plastic surgery theatres in one NHS hospital. In this study, the overall theatre utilisation rate was 76.7% with 7.5% of time lost due to late starts (median 20 minutes), 6.5% of time was used for patient turnover (median 14 minutes) and 12.1% of time was wasted by early finishes (median 36 minutes). Theatre utilisation in this study is below the recommended level. Recommendations: 1. Aim to perform the ‘huddle’ in theatre half an hour before the list begins; 2. Communication of a 30-minute and 15-minute warning so patients can be sent for earlier to decreased turnover time; 3. Re-audit after changes have been made. If start times and turnover times are improved, there is the potential to add extra patients to theatre lists, increasing theatre utilisation.

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