Health Care Management Science

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 236–244 | Cite as

Balancing operating theatre and bed capacity in a cardiothoracic centre

  • John BowersEmail author


Cardiothoracic surgery requires many expensive resources. This paper examines the balance between operating theatres and beds in a specialist facility providing elective heart and lung surgery. Without both operating theatre time and an Intensive Care bed a patient’s surgery has to be postponed. While admissions can be managed, there are significant stochastic features, notably the cancellation of theatre procedures and patients’ length of stay on the Intensive Care Unit. A simulation was developed, with clinical and management staff, to explore the interdependencies of resource availabilities and the daily demand. The model was used to examine options for expanding the capacity of the whole facility. Ideally the bed and theatre capacity should be well balanced but unmatched increases in either resource can still be beneficial. The study provides an example of a capacity planning problem in which there is uncertainty in the demand for two symbiotic resources.


OR in health services Intensive care Staff scheduling Simulation 



This study was funded by the Scottish Government Health Department and supported by numerous staff from the Health and Lung Centre at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital. The staff were most co-operative providing essential data and many valuable insights into the organisation of the facility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stirling Management SchoolUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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