• Lean management in the NHS: fad or panacea

      McIntosh, Bryan; Cookson, G. (2012)
      Lean principles emerged in the Japanese manufacturing industry after the Second World War. Lean management focuses on improving product quality while eliminating waste—primarily through process redesign and the integration of employees, management, suppliers and customers into the quality management process. The NHS is under significant pressure to improve productivity while maintaining or improving service quality, at the same time as service demand increases. The Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programme’s primary concern is to ensure that financial resources are used to bring maximum benefit and quality of care to patients (Department of Health, 2010). Lean management could therefore offer a panacea for the NHS, although its applicability to the health service sector is contested. This article investigates whether lean management is merely a fad or whether it could alleviate the pressure the NHS faces. While specific clinical processes may easily adopt lean processes and practices, healthcare organisations will need a paradigm shift in their management philosophy to adopt lean more widely. The promise of lean management remains elusive but could be harnessed by willing organisations.