Investigating Fractured Flow from Orthopaedics to Rehabilitation

D. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients often spend time as inpatients in hospitals outside their home area because of the need to access specialist services. If there is a need for ongoing care after the need for specialist care has passed, patients are transferred (or ‘repatriated’) back to the inpatient care of a hospital in their local Health and Social Care Trust. The need for bed space in specialist units means that there is pressure for this transition to occur in a timely way. We investigated the flow of patients through a trauma and orthopaedics unit using the 6M Design® framework and Vitals Charts® in order to investigate concerns about delayed repatriation. We found that repatriation was part of a complex system that had interdependent components. There was considerable variation in the number of discharges (to any destination) by day of week, with a reduction on Saturdays and Sundays. Understanding that the pressure for quicker repatriation was really due to high work-in-progress led us to model the effects of strategies to address the high work-in-progress. We found that, because only a small proportion of patients require repatriation, expediting the repatriation process by one day for each patient would only reduce WIP by an average of 1.6 patients. Reducing the average length of stay for all trauma and orthopaedics inpatients by one day would reduce the WIP by 10 patients, which would make a much greater impact on the problem of high bed occupancy. Though the smooth and timely repatriation of patients to rehabilitation units is desirable, it is unlikely that efforts to achieve this will have a substantial impact on the problem of high WIP, so other strategies will be required. We will model the effects of strategies to reduce variation in daily discharges by the day of week in a future essay.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Improvement Science
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2016

Bibliographical note

This was coursework for a healthcare quality improvement course. It is peer-reviewed but it is not intended to be a conventional academic paper. It is not for submission to the REF.


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