Airedale Trust has been working with the Lean Healthcare Academy to develop a series of pilot projects using a new training facility based at Airedale General Hospital.

E-learning may get a bad rap for taking the personal aspect out of teaching, but there are examples where it is producing positive results.

Waiting times for 'small for date' baby scans have been reduced from up to six weeks to within 24 hours in most cases at Airedale Trust.

The trust has been working with the Lean Healthcare Academy to develop a series of pilot projects using a new training facility based at Airedale General Hospital.

The first project - the intrauterine growth restriction project - has now been introduced into the hospital's midwifery unit. It has involved staff training, development and implementation support, and a range of flexible online e-learning programmes.

All stakeholders were consulted and trained. This included community midwives, GPs, the hospital's midwifery unit, the labour ward, the antenatal day assessment unit (ANDAU), the ante-natal clinic, consultants, and ultrasound and maternity administration staff.

The entire intrauterine growth restriction procedure is now dealt with by the day assessment unit.

Patients are seen after three simple steps - the initial diagnosis and telephone call to ANDAU, the scan and review by the attendant midwife, then a meeting with a hospital consultant to instigate a plan of care.

Airedale matron for hospital midwifery Sue Speak says the project has 'completely transformed' the hospital's 'small for date' baby scan procedures for both patients and staff. Patients just need to make one visit to the hospital, and staff make only one telephone call to arrange the scan.

'It has made a real difference in helping to ease the anxieties facing new parents,' says Ms Speak. 'Another important benefit is that the initiative should prevent unnecessary admissions.'

Airedale NHS Trust co-founded the Lean Healthcare Academy (www.leanhealthcareacademy.co.uk) in August 2006 to promote the adoption of lean principles and methods in the healthcare sector by focussing on the elimination of wasteful practices. The academy is part of the Virtual College (www.virtual-college.co.uk), which develops e-learning for the public sector.