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Meeting the Future Challenges of the UK’s National Health Service


Andy Ward, Managing Principal of GE Healthcare Performance Solutions UK

In an interview published in the June issue of Clinical Services Journal (CSJ), Andy Ward, Managing Principal of GE Healthcare Performance Solutions UK, spoke about how the skills of a healthcare focused consultancy can help UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to meet the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) challenge, the transformational programme which aims to make £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015, and prepare NHS to meet future challenges.

Andy went on to explain the impact of the QIPP challenge and how it is causing many Trusts to focus on taking waste out of local parts of the system, without looking at the potential savings possible at the 'transformational change' level.

“Now is the time for Trusts to start thinking bigger and to introduce system wide changes,” he told CSJ. “The technology and knowledge is available today to help the NHS achieve these goals – be it physical asset tracking software or reducing the unwarranted variation of care by using business analytics in a clinical setting. These are the areas that healthcare leaders really need to focus on now."

He warned that against the backdrop of cost pressures impacting the healthcare sector, it will become even more important to change the way that healthcare is delivered to ensure that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery in the future.

How Performance Solutions can bring about change

Performance Solutions is actively working with hospitals and providers in the community to help them achieve cost reductions, patient care improvements or increased clinical quality. Andy explained: “We have some clever technology and algorithms to draw on that scale across a variety of industries, to supplement our advisory role in healthcare. Performance Solutions has a national team of experienced professionals across the country with a mix of skills including Six Sigma, Kaizen and lean management and productivity philosophies that focus on continuous improvement. We also have clinicians on the team as well as people with many years of experience in implementing healthcare systems change.”

Countering resistance to change

Andy Ward believes that one of the hardest parts of operational change management is countering resistance to change. “Difficult choices need to be made today; otherwise harder choices will need to be made in the future.  Now is the time for bold leadership decisions which must be supported from the very top of the organisation.”

Performance Solutions helps its clients put together the arguments for change at all levels, and then implement them. “It is vital to first ask and answer the question of why change is needed. If both the executives and frontline workers are given the opportunity to answer this question there will be a much better chance of getting all Trust employees on board with an idea.”

Another challenge he mentioned was the need to maintain momentum as people will typically slowly revert to their old behaviour. Referring to a particular project for an NHS Trust, he described how a more sustained change was achieved because the organisation started to focus more on its values. It began to assess employees on their values and behaviour, and then recruit using the same criteria.