Trusts could save over £1.5m a year by implementing a programme that encourages operating theatre staff to work more productively.

The Productive Operating Theatre programme, developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, was launched on Monday.

It is the latest in its series of productivity toolkits, which started in January 2008 with the Productive Ward: releasing time to care programme.

The five-module Productive Operating Theatre guide provides clinical staff with examples of how to systematically improve efficiency and quality, and has been piloted at six sites.

The institute said the pilots showed that reduced cancellations, improved scheduling, fewer clinical errors and improved stock control could deliver an annual saving of £1.6m for an average trust with 16 theatres. Stock savings could reach £80,000 in the first year.

NHS Institute lead associate for the programme Amanda Fegan said: “For the NHS as a whole, this will mean not just better quality care, but huge efficiency savings over the next three to five years.”