Setting up a virtual stock room

Setting up a virtual stock room has resulted in money being saved and teams getting hold of items they need much quicker.

In its first 10 weeks, 145 items of stock which were due to expire or were no longer needed, were instead shared with other teams, resulting in a saving of £4,000. More recently, a further £750 was saved, as uniforms which one team had in stock, were given to another team who needed them straightaway.

The idea came from the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) community nursing administration teams in Ashford, Weald and west Kent. The teams were asked to review how stock was managed and to decrease the amount of excess stock held at bases. They also wanted to reduce the time taken by admin teams to order and manager deliveries. The teams believed money could be saved if stock due to expire, or which was no longer needed, could be used by others.

The virtual stock room also means teams can get hold of things quicker, with items being sent in the internal mail being faster than ordering from an external supplier.

The teams used a quality improvement (QI approach to the work, setting a clear aim at the start and measuring and recording the difference that changes made.

Sophie Lees, Admin Manager at Whitstable and Tankerton Hospital, said: “At a monthly meeting, we were asked to look at reducing stock and discussed ideas on how we could possibly share stock. We came up with the idea of having a spreadsheet to log available stock.

“We recorded stock which was due to expire or was no longer needed by a local team. We also used Microsoft Teams to start a group chat, to highlight what was available and what was needed. We trialled the online stock room for one month, before reviewing what worked and what needed to be improved.

“Making sure stock was in the right place at the right time supported clinical teams and patient care. There has been a huge sense of achievement in the financial savings and reduced wastage. It has also reduced the amount of time colleagues need to spend on Supply Chain, searching for products, while also clearing space in our stockrooms.”

The teams are continuing to improve how the virtual stock room works and have a template which they are keen to share across the trust. Next, they are to present their idea to KCHFT community nursing teams in east Kent, to see if it would help them.

See more about the work in the flash of brilliance below:

The virtual stock room flash of brilliance