Effective operating theatres

April 2003

More efficient scheduling led to estimated cost savings of over £400,000 a year at the Manchester Royal Infirmary by enabling 700 extra operations to be performed each year, reducing cancellations and over-runs.

"Working with the University gave the project a different dimension. We had the support of the academic supervisor and that meant that we had a broader knowledge base. It helped us to look outside our own little box and to think more laterally than we had done." (Heather Bonnebaigt, Directorate Manager, Manchester Royal Infirmary)Surgeons working in Manchester can now perform 700 extra operations a year following an ESRC-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project between the Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospital in collaboration with Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

The research team set out to tackle the problem of the under-use of expensive operating theatre resources. The KTP Associate worked closely with staff and managers to develop a robust and reliable management information system that allows staff to communicate more effectively with departments sending patients to theatre, and also internally within the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The new PC-based system, together with the introduction of modern operations management within operating theatres, has improved staff capability and enabled them to identify areas of improvement. Benefits include increased capacity in terms of how many operations the department can perform, reduced costs in running the operating theatres, reduced cancellations within the theatres, and more organised and efficient procedures.


  • The Trust saved approximately £300,000 by developing the software system themselves, rather than buying an 'off-the-shelf' system.
  • Enabled 700 extra operations to be performed each year through efficient scheduling, potentially saving the Trust over £400,000 a year
  • Increased efficiency and improved staff capability
  • A reduction in operation cancellations and the reorganisation of storerooms has freed up 40 per cent more space.
  • Best Practice example to other areas of the NHS.

Further information

This KTP partnership was funded 50 per cent by the ESRC, and 50 per cent by NHS North West.