Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

US corporation brought in to help improve five trusts


A US healthcare corporation is being brought in to support five NHS hospital trusts in improving quality and clinical engagement.

Earlier today the health secretary announced a five-year, £12.5m programme to bring in Virginia Mason to five hospital trusts with a combined turnover of more than £2bn.

The trusts are:

  • Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust
  • Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust
  • Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire

Virginia Mason are being paid £9m by the Department of Health, with a further £3.5m set aside to cover costs such as airfares and managing the project.

The programme will see visits from Virginia Mason staff and the training of some staff at each trust on the Seattle based company’s methods and principles.

The tender document for the work (attached, right) said each of the five trusts would receive “five days of provider time to use in [each of] the first two years”.

The document added: “The provider will work with the chosen trusts to identify two to four people in each organisation to act as leaders. The exact number will depend on the size and complexity of the trust.”

The work will be heavily focussed on clinical engagement and cultur, and each trust will be expected to establish a “transformation team and board to oversee its work within the programme”.

The DH said the NHS would be “assisted” by tools developed by Virginia Mason, including the Patient Safety Alert System, which authorises any of the organisation’s 6,000 employees “regardless of their job… to file a safety alert any time he or she suspects a potential or real hazard”.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

Virginia Mason has also developed electronic dashboards to remind clinicians of specific issues – for example, to undertake a quality review for every critical care patient.

Jeremy Hunt said in a statement: “I want to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world, powered by a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

“The achievements at Virginia Mason over the past decade are truly inspirational and I’m delighted they will now help NHS staff to learn the lessons that made their hospital one of the safest in the world – patients will see real benefits as a result.” 

Virginia Mason chair and chief executive Gary Kaplan said the firm was “honoured” to share “what we have learned about transforming health care and putting patients’ interests first” with the NHS.

Two of the trusts chosen, University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire, and Barking, Havering and Redbridge, have significant private finance initiative deals.

A spokeswoman for the NHS Trust Development Authority, which will be managing the project, said the five trusts were chosen from 36 that applied, and were selected because they had a workforce and board committed to making significant cultural change.

Bob Alexander, acting chief executive of the authority, said: “Virginia Mason have demonstrated over the last decade that by getting the quality of care right for each patient this improves productivity and reduces cost through reducing waste.

“Through this partnership, five NHS trusts will eliminate waste and concentrate on the things that add real value for patients and staff, leading to better, safer, more efficient care,” he added.


Readers' comments (7)

  • what a joke

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Is this the beginning of TTIP?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • More privatisation and Americanisation of OUR health service. So Hunt can find millions to bleed out of the NHS for corporations but can't find decent pay rises. Disgusting!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 17 July 2015

    Finally, ..."a workforce and BOARD committed to making significant cultural change" - quoting from the news above. This is where Real Change begins from the top and trickles down to front-line staff. Any innovation or constructive changes in an organization does not happen overnight it takes a lot of time to be absorb in mind and body by an individual or group of people. Visualization needs to take place first in mind before it needs to be transferred, acted and materialize in our real world.

    I do not want to be a pessimist and criticise about wasting tax payers money on Virginia Mason assistance to help improve five hospital trusts. With this money £12.5 million can help pay for the nurse staffing shortage in the NHS, pay for prescription cancer drugs NOT budget covered by some GPs, hire community or district nurses, fund additional ambulances and personnel and the list goes on.

    If we really need to start and change something. This is the way to move forward to hire a U.S. Private Hospital to help improve five NHS Hospital Trust. Why not? As long as this will:

    1) Prevent systemic failure- one of the common organizational breakdowns such as staffing issues in the ward and any other areas of the organization. Remember an "Exhausted and Over stress" front-line staff is worst than a competent and compassionate staff.

    2) Eliminate waste. Example, A culture change among surgeons and anaesthetist to avoid unnecessary requisition of items, instrument and equipment use in operating theatres.

    Avoiding too many forms being printed that served only one purpose which is documentation. Some forms as you know like documenting nursing obs and notes have many versions and variations.
    Unnecessary purchase of consumable items.

    3) Promoting Equality and Diversity. Which means giving job promotion for the BEST QUALIFIED Indidual person or groups of people.

    4) Establishing a culture, being assertive and proactive in an organization about staff and patient safety awareness, reporting incident, learning and improving policy or practices - mindset, behavior, skills, knowledge and experience affecting patient safety.

    Please NT can you follow up the progress of this story in the future. What sort of improvement in the care of patient, cost saving and avoiding waste? Thanks. Looking forward to your next story on one of the five pilot NHS Trust Hospitals.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 17-Jul-2015 1:51 am

    according to the 'history' books Americanisation began in the mid-1980s with the introduction of 'General Management' derived from the industrial model started by Henry Ford in the motor manufacturing industry. the NHS has gone downhill with successive government tampering and managerial destruction ever since whilst Americanisation continues to spread its evil tentacles at alarming speed and total destruction of the whole original concept of the NHS.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • how about bringing in the excellent French Hospital Association. they know what they are about.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The wording in the tender document is interesting. Doctors are talked about as if they are people to be manipulated into getting on board - 'their active engagement is critical. They cannot be side-lined'. (p6) How could it work if they were? Why does this need to be stated? Nurses are not mentioned directly. £12.5 million is a huge amount of money for what seems to be management training.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.