Updated: Some Disgusting "Cost Cutting" Efforts


    Hard-up hospital orders staff: Don't wash sheets – turn them over the Daily Mail

    Updated: The hospital denies the claims (as has a commenter on this post)

    This is NOT good problem solving or good patient care, if this is true, this story from the UK:

    Cleaners at an NHS hospital with a poor record on superbugs have been told to turn over dirty sheets instead of using fresh ones between patients to save money.

    Housekeeping staff at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, have been asked to re-use sheets and pillowcases wherever possible to cut a £500,000 laundry bill.

    Posters in the hospital's linen cupboards and on doors into the A&E department remind workers that each item costs 0.275 pence to wash.

    That's about 54 cents US. Here's an interesting question… if you were an employee given that order, would you follow it?

    Efforts like this shouldn't be misconstrued as “lean,” this sort of braindead “cost cutting.” The article doesn't call it lean, but I want to be perfectly clear that lean isn't about cutting costs in a way that denies care or cleanliness to anyone. Lean is about reducing waste so that we can do MORE for patients and for employees.

    More examples of the alleged NHS “cost cutting”:

    In January, staff at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust were amazed to receive a memo urging them to save £2.50 a day by prescribing cheaper medicines, reducing the number of sterile packs used, cutting hospital tests and asking patients to bring drugs in from home.

    Epsom and St Helier Trust in South London has removed every third light bulb from corridors.

    I'm sure this type of thing happens in hospitals in other countries too, I'm not just picking on the NHS. I'm picking on traditional “non-lean” management approaches.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. I think someone has got the wrong end of the stick on this story. I believe that the sheets are changed between patients and if they are soiled but if the same patient is in the bed and the sheets are not soiled they are not changed on a daily basis. Could changing clean sheets every day not be seen as an example of ‘overprocessing’?

    2. That article, all of the quotes talk about the practice BETWEEN patients.

      Maybe changing clean sheets would be overprocessing, between patients, but it was pretty clear in the article everyone was talking about between patients.

    3. Yes I know that’s what the article said and I think that’s where the wrong end of the stick has been grasped. I know from personal experience that this isn’t the practice employed.


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