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Health Service SPC

Applying and explaining statistical process control to the NHS

Health Service SPC A4 flyer (102kb)

A one-day course that shows numerate NHS staff how to apply statistical process control (SPC) to NHS performance management and improvement situations. The course emphasises the need to be able explain SPC as well as teaching the know-how to enable you to calculate and draw a wide range of run charts and control charts.

Health Service SPC is aimed at improvement practitioners and information analysts who need to be able to create run charts and control charts in support of NHS performance management and improvement work. By the end of the course participants will be able to create run charts and control charts that are appropriate for a range of NHS scenarios. They will be able to do this using Microsoft Excel so that they understand exactly what they've done to arrive at their end product. Moreover, they will be able to interpret and explain the results of their calculations and analysis clearly and effectively. No prior knowledge of SPC is assumed. However, you will need a basic grasp of Microsoft Excel in order to be able to complete the exercises.


  • A brief exploration of how to tell whether or not SPC is an appropriate tool to use for the data you are looking at

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining run charts

  • Understanding why we use different methods and techniques for parametric and non-parametric data


  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining XmR charts

  • Understanding and explaining standard error for parametric data

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining X Bar and S charts


  • Introducing non-parametric data

  • Understanding and explaining standard error for non-parametric data

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining P charts

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining funnel plots

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining NP charts


  • How to apply SPC when you don't have all the data you want

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining C charts

  • Drawing, interpreting and explaining U charts

  • Recap of the day's learning

To run this course on-site, you will 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.

Health Service SPC as an on-site course will cost £1,100+VAT. All expenses included.


"Neil was a fantastic tutor. He took time to answer questions and was very personable."

Health Service SPC

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, December 2009

As well as teaching the mechanics of how to calculate and draw control limits on control charts, Health Service SPC also places considerable emphasis on appropriateness. It is vitally important for us to understand when SPC is—and when it is not—the right tool to use. We devote a lot of time throughout the course discussing when NHS situations constitute a "process" and when they do not.

In addition, the course also stresses the need to explain. We have to be able to explain what run charts and control charts mean. Our own understanding of how the charts are constructed is critical because our explanations will help others interpret the data.

This is why we spend a lot of time making sure that course participants understand the core concepts of standard deviation, average moving range and standard error. When you present control charts to managers and clinicians you need a thorough grasp of what normal variation and special cause variation are. You also have to know whether what you are dealing with is a process or not, and what your rationale is for presenting the analysis as a piece of SPC.

Health Service SPC is a course that not only teaches you how to do the calculations; it also teaches you how to understand the calculations and how to explain those calculations to a lay audience.


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