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Absolute Excel

A case study approach to learning the basics of Microsoft Excel you need to do your job

A one-day course aimed at NHS managers and clinicians. Minimal previous knowledge of Excel required: you probably already use Excel to view spreadsheets but haven't explored it any further.

Absolute Excel course outline (30kb)

Who is it aimed at?

Absolute Excel is aimed at information managers and clinicians who have only a very rudimentary knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Aims and Objectives

We aim to teach you how to use Excel for more than just viewing spreadsheets and carrying out simple calculations, but how to perform analytical tasks which may come up in day-to-day work.

Prior knowledge required

Minimal prior knowledge of Excel is needed for this course. 

What material does the course cover?

The course takes a 'case-study' approach, using data from real-life NHS situations to make it easier for you to apply what you have learned. The day is split up into four sessions, each tackling a different case-study:


"What If?" scenarios for outpatient services

  • The first case study looks at outpatient data and how to use excel to do some modelling. For example: what if consultants adopted a different new: return ratio? Or what if all clinic templates were set at 30 minutes for new patients and 15 minutes for return patients?

  • We explore Excel's Goal Seek functionality to arrive at answers to these "What if?" questions.


Will there be beds for me and all who seek?

  • The second case study looks at how beds are allocated in a typical large general hospital and the problems which may occur.

  • We introduce some basic statistical functions in this case study as well as showing how to draw ‘proper’ frequency histograms and time-series graphs.


A&E and the four-hour target

  • The third case study is a whistle-stop tour through statistical process control (SPC) and shows how to use Excel to draw basic run charts and control charts using raw data as a starting-point.

  • Some slightly more complex statistical functions are introduced in this case study, which examines waiting times in the Accident and Emergency department of a large general hospital.


Hospital length of stay under the microscope

  • The fourth case study shows how to use Excel to examine hospital length of stay.

  • We look at trends in length of stay and we show how to calculate different kinds of length of stay (e.g. episode-based; hospital stay-based)

  • We show how to compare length of stay between hospitals, specialties and consultants

  • Finally, we show a range of graphical techniques that can be employed to help us visualize length of stay.

What facilities are needed to run the course?

You need either an IT training room with enough PCs for each participant or a meeting room big enough to accommodate the participants with a laptop each. We can bring laptops. Up to eight participants can be accommodated on each course.

How much does the course cost?

To run Absolute Excel as an on-site course for up to eight participants will cost £1,100+VAT. All expenses included.


"The references to real-life situations meant it was easy to see how things learnt on the course could be used at work."

Absolute Excel

Ramada Hotel, Manchester, April 2009


The usual approach to teaching a software package is to go through its functionality bit by bit, showing how to use each tool and technique. The result is that you learn about the software’s capability but you often don’t see the relevance of what you’ve learnt. It is a syllabus-oriented approach, and its drawback is that you go back to your workplace with no clear idea of how to apply your newly-learned skills.

Absolute Excel addresses this drawback by adopting a task-oriented approach to learning Excel. We select examples of analytical tasks that are often needed in NHS work situations and then we show you how to do them in Excel. In the four sessions of the course we complete four separate case studies.


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