On the 9th June, 2021, a virtual summit was held focusing on the productivity, quality and safety of surgical services in the UK during and beyond the covid-19 pandemic. Topics covered during the summit focused on the importance of operating theatres continuing to provide surgery as efficiently and safely as possible to manage the surgical waiting list backlog caused by the pandemic.

Opening the summit was Professor Tim Briggs CBE, getting it right first time (GIRFT) Program chair. Ways to reduce the waiting list by increasing efficiency was discussed using data from a study undertaken in 2017 which identified the high-volume surgical specialties, namely general surgery, orthopaedics, ENT, gynaecology, plastics, vascular, oral-maxillofacial surgery and ophthalmology.

This study revealed several key findings based on data submitted by 92 NHS trusts. Late starts and early finishes along with delays in turnaround between cases has culminated in lost theatre time, waste and patients not receiving the surgery they need.

Several reasons for operating theatre inefficiencies were highlighted. These included downtime between cases, poor scheduling and issues around equipment being among them. Solutions to resolve existing problems with the large waiting list now exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic are all supported by theatreman and in 2022, theatreman AQUA. The creation of specific pathways, using shared decision making and improving scheduling to increase productivity. The deployment of the private sector which is embedded into the plan going forward and the continued use of specialist hubs to manage elective procedures were also highlighted.

So how is this applicable to theatreman? The many attributes provided by theatreman and ssdman support the ongoing challenge created by the meltdown caused by the pandemic by providing automated solutions to manage operating theatres from enhancing the session management and scheduling process to facilitating the actions required during the ‘touch times’ from anaesthetics to recovery.