In a statement of intent which is likely to worry unions and some staff, Mr Parsa said his vision of hospital care was somewhere between a management consultancy firm like McKinsey and a manufacturer like Toyota.

“When I first joined Healthcare, I thought it was run in completely the wrong way – as a command economy with top-down management.

“I thought it should be run like a professional service company because doctors and nurses are professionals. What I’ve discovered is that I was wrong. Healthcare needs to be run like a professional services organisation but it also needs to be run like Toyota. Hospitals also run a gigantic number of processes like a factory. An operating theatre system is a process management system. The trick in management of healthcare is how do you mix the two?”

Mr Parsa said feedback was important to both sides of the mix.

“The transparency about how people feel about the place is vital,” he said. “It makes people think about what’s important – and that’s how you improve care.”

Friends will know that I’m a lifelong supporter of the public sector in medicine, and I’m deeply concerned about introducing the American model and profit motive to healthcare.

That said, US examples such as ThedaCare and Virginia Mason have shown that the non-public sector can do wonderful things using Lean methods, achieving significant gains in cost effectiveness and patient outcomes.

So while I’m concerned that the UK government is allowing a private company to run an NHS hospital, the company’s CEO’s willingness to cite Toyota as one of its models is reassuring.

If Unions and Staff (and indeed Journalists) find this worrying, they should perhaps pause the knee jerk reaction and do some research.

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CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Lean Direction for Britain’s 1st Private NHS Hospital? by Martin Burns is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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