Quality Improvement

Improving systems & processes

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Inventory imprest project

Inventory imprest project

What is inventory imprest?

Inventory imprest is our system for ordering clinical supplies for our North Shore and Waitakere hospitals.

What are we trying to achieve?

Value: Better, Best, BrilliantThe existing system for ordering clinical supplies was ‘ad hoc’. Running out of items and borrowing from another ward or placing an urgent order was an everyday event.  We needed to improve the ordering and storing of clinical supplies within the clinical areas at North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals.

The project initially focused on 7 wards -  4 in North Shore Hospital and 3 in Waitakere Hospital

What have we done? From disorder to order

Step 1


A healthcare assistant  (HCA) was assigned to each clinical area and given time to:

  • reorganise the clinical supplies to make sure there was a “place for everything and everything was in its place”
  • find and remove the “secret stores
  • arrange the clinical supplies into “inventory banks
  • reduce unnecessary overstocking on the wards

Lansom bins Clean upBoxes of stock


Once this hard work was done we needed to make sure it was maintained.

  • For each item, we worked out how many we needed to make sure we didn’t run out.  We then worked out the minimum and maximum levels of each item.
  • We created labels with the levels and a description of the item.
  • We created a system with a book and stock ordering form for each area.
  • We created standard operation procedures (SOPs) for the wards to follow when ordering new clinical supplies.
  • We order our clinical supplies on a designated day to reduce the number of orders we make and receive.
  • We check clinical items off when they arrive and put everything in its right place.
  • We follow up on delayed stock.

Step 3


We also identified other improvements.

  • We followed-up on back orders and errors with our procurement team and the supplier.
  • We moved rarely used items to ward areas for better utilisation and less waste.
  • We reduced variation by decreasing the number of stock types e.g. 5 different kits were used on a ward for the same procedure.

Did we make a difference

  • We saved $54,000 in 3 months (comparing 2011 with 2012).
  • A staff satisfaction survey in all the trial areas showed over 90% of clinical staff were more satisfied with the availability of clinical supplies in their area and the ordering process.
  • We were also able to reduce the amount of urgent and non-urgent orders made, each urgent item is estimated at costing us $50 and each non-urgent $30.

Awarded the Awhina Director's Prize for Waitemata Health Excellence Awards 2012