University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) was formed in April 2000 after three of the city’s hospitals – Glenfield, Leicester General and Leicester Royal Infirmary – came together to provide a more modern and efficient healthcare service.
Improving asset management
Work began on a £761 million PFI investment (The Pathway Project) to modernise UHL buildings and facilities over a 30-year period. The Trust’s three imaging departments urgently needed investment and the Imaging Services Directorate specified that any solution must deliver best value, improved management of assets and, ideally, innovation. The solution also needed to support strategic objectives, have high-level executive buy-in and be flexible enough to meet evolving requirements.
Asteral responded by offering an innovative Asteral Select contract that would provide genuine risk transfer and be funded entirely from existing medium-term budgets. The solution did not require additional funding from the government, nor did it rely on resources provided by the PFI investment. Asteral and the Trust worked in partnership to develop and refine the most effective long term solution.
Asteral demonstrated an in-depth understanding of all medical equipment issues and their effect on the Trust’s services. Within the first nine months, Asteral installed bespoke, state-of-the-art, Radiology equipment and facilities at UHL. Asteral provides a full-time on-site engineer and Radiographer to ensure the smooth running of the service.
UHL pays fixed costs and receives a comprehensive service that includes staff training and equipment management in line with regulatory requirements.
Over the last two years uptime has improved and staff are free to concentrate on patient care without having to worry about procurement, payment, warranties, maintenance or training. At the Trust’s request, Asteral supplies performance data according to equipment type, hospital site and supplier. UHL can see in an instant how equipment is performing and being used, and view an auditable trail of all supplier and maintenance activities, which has meant a significant improvement on service.
Accelerating the pace of change
Asteral spent considerable time understanding not only the strategic challenges facing UHL, but also the Trust operational needs. As a result, Asteral has been able to help accelerate the pace of change through supporting strategic objectives and gaining high level executive support, without which the scheme could not have progressed.
Other benefits to UHL of its partnership with Asteral include:
- A single point of contact for all equipment related problems
- Strategic and resilience planning, managed by Asteral’s qualified technical and scientific team
- A flexible contract allowing for the addition or removal of equipment types as clinical requirements change
- Performance measurement through a set of agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Best-value procurement from a variety of manufacturers, allowing the Trust to specify each item according to clinical preference
- A VAT recoverable service
Asteral Select and clinical consumables
In addition to the traditional equipment planning and procurement, design, build, installation, and ongoing maintenance Asteral’s Select service at UHL has evolved to include a clinical consumables management service (“CMS”), the provision of non-clinical and technical staff, as well as the provision of integrated IT systems. Following the transfer of on-site consumables staff, Asteral manages the Cardiology consumables and procedure packs for nine catheter laboratories across UHL and the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre which together perform over 450 procedures per annum.
Asteral is unique in the marketplace due to its proven capability and capacity to deliver a clinical consumables management service including contrast media. Asteral has invested in and secured an MHRA Wholesale Dealer’s Licence for the handling of contrast media, and developed our own CMS IT infrastructure to provide integrated procurement, inventory management and procedure level costings for Cardiology and Interventional Radiology departments. Asteral is one of the largest independent buyers of clinical consumables in the UK, and in addition to savings related to managed service tax efficiencies, we have achieved economies of scale that lead to real procurement savings for our customers. Asteral has a catalogue of 3,000 clinical consumables sourced from 65 suppliers in line with its ethos of vendor-independence.
“Both Asteral and UHL’s imaging services directorate have been prepared to allocate time, energy, imagination and resources to developing and sustaining a strategic partnership of which both organisations can be proud,” says Helen Seth, Deputy Director of Operations.