Supplies specialists ease burden on frontline staff
The traditional system for ensuring that wards maintained a sufficient supply of key items, such as personal protection equipment, medical consumables, Central Sterile Supplies Departement's pre-sterilised disposal items and linen items, involved frontline healthcare workers taking monthly turns to perform inventory counts, order and stack supplies, and check relevant existing items for product availability, integrity and expiry dates. To reduce the burden created by these time-consuming duties, the Business Support Services Department at Hospital Authority Head Office last year pilot-tested an auto-refill service in Kowloon Central and New Territories East clusters, under which specialists were assigned to handle these supply-related tasks on a weekly or daily basis. This more systematic approach to inventory management is not only assisting frontline staff in terms of workload, but has also greatly reduced instances of inadequate or excessive ward supplies.
The success of the Government-funded initiative has resulted in the application of additional funds to implement the system in HA’s other clusters next year.
Jessie Wong, Ward Manager of the Medicine Department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) gives the new system her seal of approval. “Removing this burden has meant frontline healthcare workers can spend more time taking care of patients,” she says. “Regular monitoring of supplies by assigned specialist staff has improved inventory management and reduced waste by ensuring items with a limited shelf life are used before the expiry date. The items are also better organised and easier to find.”
At QEH, the service manages over 400 types of items through around 110 locations, providing coverage that currently includes the majority of wards. Every specialist supplies colleague handles eight to nine wards a day and is required to undertake three months of related training that includes three rounds of tests to assess their store items handling skills.