NHS Trusts to Share in Industry's Best Practice

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Byline: James O'Brien

Systems used in manufacturing to streamline industrial production will be applied in Birmingham at two of Britain's biggest hospital trusts in a pounds 14.4 million two-year project.

University Hospitals Birmingham and the Birmingham Heartlands & Solihull Hospital Trust will be joined in their drive for greater efficiency by the South Birmingham Primary Care Trust.

The three hospitals will work with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) which will transfer its expertise and experience from production industries into the trusts to raise efficiency by 30 per cent.

The project is looking for early results in shared pathology and prescription services. Birmingham already has the most advanced pathology service in the UK.

The Department of Health is looking at the project and its results could influence future thinking on reform for the National Health Service.

Prof Kumar Bhattacharyya, head of WMG and an international authority on industrial production and manufacturing, said yesterday:'Hospital trusts do not talk to one another because they are in competition, but the health service is at the top of everyone's agenda.

'There is no way we can have a scenario whereby everything is being reinvented time and again. Best practice coming from other sectors is very welcome in this situation. WMG also sees this as part of its civic duty to share its knowledge.

'Business consultants are coming out of every place imaginable trying to make money out of the health service but the results are sparse.

'WMG is doing this in a way where best practice can be transferred into these specific areas in the hospitals by using our experience in the US, the Far East and Europe.

'We will utilise the existing resources and identify others and this project could set the pace for wider NHS reform based on international understanding of an agenda that has already taken place in industry.

'There is huge leverage in this to bring the suppliers closer to the hospitals in the same way that components suppliers have set up businesses alongside manufacturing plants,' said Prof Bhattacharyya. …