Appointing a dedicated operating theatre “scheduler” could save acute trusts more than £5m a year, latest information from the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement suggests.

The initiative is one of two new modules launched by the institute last month as part of the Productive Operating Theatre Programme.

The new modules – teamworking and scheduling – are designed to help theatre staff work more collaboratively to address problem areas that can impact on patient safety and cause delayed or cancelled operations.

The modules have been piloted at six sites across England since September 2008 and the institute said that all hospitals that have implemented the schemes have seen a reduction in the number of cancelled operations and improvements in staff morale.

According to the results of the pilots, appointing a dedicated scheduler for orthopaedic operations delivered a 10 per cent improvement in services, from 87 per cent to 97 per cent.

The institute said that for an average trust with 16 theatres, this 10 per cent improvement could generate savings of £79,200 per week, or £3, 960, 000 per year.

They added that if this was rolled out across the organisation to cover all operations it would release further cost improvements of £1,188,000 per year.

NHS Institute lead associate for the Productive Operating Theatre Programme Amanda Fegan said: “Our programme shows how much trusts can achieve through improved communication and introducing a more collaborative approach.

“We believe that scheduling and teamworking are the transformational modules of the programme. Trusts need to excel at both before claiming to offer a really high quality service,” she added.

The Productive Operating Theatre is part of a series of productivity tool kits, launched in January 2008, which support NHS staff in redesigning and streamlining services.